Leopard seal's death 'disgusting' - expert

A wildlife expert has lashed out at "the level of depravity" shown by someone who shot and killed a seal in Northland.

The mammal's body was found on a beach south of Glinks Gully in Dargaville.

"Some one has just shot this leopard seal. There's no fresh marks on the beach," said local Shane Searle in a video he shot when he found the creature - then still alive.

"I was only here yesterday, but what a piece of shit. I hope he gets his f***ing just desserts."

Marine biologist Ingrid Visser told Newshub it's an outrageous act of cruelty.

"I was absolutely horrified that somebody could do that to an animal. It's disgusting."

An investigation is now underway. Whoever did it faces up to two years in prison or a $250,000 fine.

"These animals belong here," said Dr Visser. "We need to treat them with respect and dignity. People should not be allowed to get away with harming any animal in this way."

She says it happens all too often.

"People have shot at seals, hit them with clubs, they've driven over them with cars… it shows just the level of depravity of these individuals."