A young New Zealand fur seal is being treated for infection at Auckland Zoo after being found slumped on a rock ledge at Piha with discarded fishing line around its neck.
A young woman had spotted the injured seal and Department of Conservation rangers responded, DOC ranger Gabrielle Goodin told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.
"Literally when we got out there I saw the seal and it was over this little rock ledge and I thought it was dead," Ms Goodin said.
Auckland Zoo vet Lydia Uddstrom said the fishing line has no give, so as the seal grows with it around the neck, the line cuts deeper and deeper.
"It's not a simple matter of cut the nylon off and just chuck him back out and good luck to you. It's really that follow up and making sure that we can control any infection," Ms Uddstrom said.
The vets work in silence, trying to keep the young seal as calm as possible while treating it at the zoo.
The case is a reminder of how a little piece of human waste can cause such pain to an innocent victim.
Fur seals are a conservation success story, with their numbers up.
But so is human interaction with them.
"We have a high population in Auckland, so it's managing that success. How can we make sure we still see a lot of seals, people are interacting with them properly and we can keep them from being injured from things like fishing lines," Ms Goodin said.
Things are looking good for the young fur seal which has been showing improvement.
"We are hopeful that if we can get on top of this infection and everything else that's going on, he should be able to get out there where he belongs," Ms Uddstrom said.