Swimmers, Divers & Anglers are warned to respect our seals
Irish Water Safety (IWS) in cooperation with the Irish Seal Sanctuary (ISS) want the public to enjoy our seal population but are cautioning the public to respect seals by adhering to the following guidelines in the interests of safety and the protection of our seals.
Seals have been protected in Ireland for 30 years following the introduction of the 1976 Wildlife Act. Since then, on foot of public feedback and the experience of the ISS we have noted changes in seal behaviour and growing interaction between seals and humans.
This has led to humans becoming more familiar with seals and frequent encounters, there are many examples of commercial fishermen and fishmongers, working in harbours feeding them to the entertainment of the public. (e.g. Nicky's Plaice in Howth, the Ice House in Dun Laoghaire Harbour; Bullock Harbour, Dublin; Kilmore quay, Wexford; Glengariff, Cork.
As a general principle however the public should enjoy these creatures at a distance and not feed them, as they confuse their boundaries of behaviour.
Swimmers have been at risk, particularly where novice swimmers and swimmers with weak hearts have been approached by seals, which to them is amiable behaviour. These encounters are quite frequent at the 40-foot and at Sea-point in Dublin. Avoid swimming in the water if they are in close proximity to your bathing area.
Divers have become quite familiar with our seals and they have reported diminishing shyness and increasing playfulness and interaction. There have been numerous cases of seals nibbling divers fins or approaching the diver directly. Change your Dive Plan to avoid close encounters with seals should you observe them at your Dive Site.
Anglers from piers and small boats should not feed seals, as a large grey seal could capsize a small boat.
People operating Fast Power Craft or Jet Skis should be vigilant not to hit seals that are resident in a lot of our harbours and small sheltered bays. Please reduce your speed in these restricted areas and avoid colliding with them.
Accidental seal scrapes from flippers or teeth are potentially dangerous carrying the additional risk of a bacterial infection sometimes known as “Seal Finger “ seek medical assistance should a seal break your skin.
For further information on seals log on to www.irishsealsanctuary.ie