A young seal found dead on Westshore beach in Napier is not thought to have died in suspicious circumstances.

The seal was found on Friday afternoon by a member of the public who picked it up and passed it to a local wildlife centre.

Senior Department of Conservation Ranger Chris Wootton said it's not unusual to come across dead seals but that the general public must always leave seals alone, dead or alive.

"They die from a variety of things - sickness or lack of food sometimes," he said.

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"People shouldn't handle dead seals (or live ones) at all. A photo of the animal is preferable and an accurate location is a help for us in assessing our response."

He said the seal appeared to be a young juvenile fur seal and didn't seem to have been killed by a dog or cats, which some of those who had spotted it on the beach suggested it may have been.

Anyone charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal faces a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine to maximum of $250,000.