The Department of Environment and Conservation has reminded people not to approach seals after an elephant seal was scared off from a South West beach on the weekend.
The four-metre, one tonne juvenile seal hauled up to rest on the shore in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park but left after being disturbed by people and dogs.
DEC ranger Gilbert Stokman said at this time of year winter fronts brought migratory animals to WA to rest, including seals, penguins and seabirds.
"Now that winter is in full swing, the presence of these animals on WA beaches may become more prevalent as they haul out on our shores for some well deserved rest after their long journey," Mr Stokman said.
"If seals are seen basking in the sun or swimming in the shallows, it is vital that they are left in peace because if they are harassed they may become distressed and leave the area."
Mr Stokman said the animals were not accustomed to people and may react aggressively when approached.
"They can inflict a nasty bite similar to that of a large dog so it is important to keep a safe distance of at least 30m from them and not get in between them and the water."
Mr Stokman said it was natural behaviour for seals to laze around on sandy beaches or rocky headlands, take a dip in the water and repeatedly wave their flippers in the air and people should not assume they are in distress.
"We ask people encountering seals on the beach to refrain from pouring water on them, feeding them, pushing them out to sea or attempting to rescue them," he said.
"We also ask people to keep their dogs away from seals."
Mr Stokman said large storm-blown seabirds should also be left alone, as they could inflict a nasty bite.Anyone who sees a sick or stranded seal or storm-blown seabird should contact DEC's Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 or the nearest DEC office.
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