An injured seal pup spotted at Kennedy Point has died during surgery to deal with its injuries.
The pup's welfare had left concerned animal lovers in disagreement as to the best line of action to take for its welfare.
Calls were made to Animal Control after the young seal was seen with a large wound on one of its front flippers.
Animal management officer Pat Burgess says as seals are protected by the Marine Mammals Act she called the Department of Conservation to report its injuries when she saw the animal last Thursday.
She was told by DOC it was best to leave the animal alone and its wound would heal without any intervention.
Mrs Burgess says: "DOC advised me that his injuries would heal and at this time of the year the mothers leave their pups to fend for themselves."
Waiheke Vets' Dan Marincas, however, stepped in, caught the young seal with a net and took it to his surgery in Oneroa.
Department of Conservation biodiversity programme manager Phil Brown says Mr Marincas then rang to seek advice on to how to treat its injuries but unfortunately the seal died as it was coming round after an operation to stitch up its wound.
Mr Marincas says: “The surgery was just 15 minutes long. We had just finished stitching him up and were thinking how we were going to release him, but his breathing went shallow and stopped. It was heartbreaking. We tried for 30 minutes to resuscitate him.”
Mr Brown says DOC advises the public not to handle seals.
"In this particular case, given the fact the vet had the seal in his surgery when he called us, we decided it was in the seal's best interests to have its injuries sewn up and then be immediately returned to the coast.
“We appreciate Mr Marincas' concern for the seal, and we know he is devastated that the seal has died, but we will be reminding him of the rules surrounding the Marine Mammals Act. People do need to talk to DOC when they find a marine mammal, before taking any action,” Mr Brown says.
“Seals are remarkably resilient. It may be best to leave them to recover from injuries with disturbing them. They can recover from quite serious injuries.”
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