Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The death of a suspected Māui dolphin 20 km north of Raglan has been met with sadness.

Date:  02 October 2018

The death of a suspected Māui dolphin near Te Akau on Sunday, 20 km north of Raglan has been met with sadness by DOC staff and iwi.

With less than 100 left, Māui dolphin are the rarest and smallest of the world's 32 dolphin species and have only been found on the West Coast of the North Island.

A local man discovered the dolphin on the beach on Sunday and reported the sighting to DOC. Two DOC rangers who responded to the report and assessed the site, took measurements and photos of the dolphin before removing it from the area.

There have been five recorded Māui dolphin deaths since 2008 with the last reported death occurring in Port Waikato in January of this year, attributed to shark predation.

A recent estimate of the Māui dolphin population indicated that there are approximately 57 to 75 individuals over one year of age.

The dolphin is being transported to Massey University's veterinary pathology specialists in Palmerston North to attempt to determine cause of death. A tissue sample will also be sent to the University of Auckland for genetic analysis to determine sub-species identification.

No indications can be made at this stage to the cause of death. The Department will await findings from Massey University.

A 1,264 sq km coastal marine sanctuary was created in 2008 as a part of the Hector's and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan. The sanctuary stretches from Maunganui Bluff, north of Dargaville to Oakura Beach, south of Taranaki, and out to 12 nautical miles offshore. The Threat Management Plan is currently being reviewed to assess whether current protection is adequate based on new information on the dolphins as well as the threats they are exposed to – keep an eye on the DOC website for progress.

Iwi have requested return of the remains once necropsy testing has been completed.

The Department is calling on the public to photograph and report any sightings of a Māui or Hector’s dolphins to the emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

DOC uses public sightings to help understand exactly where Māui dolphins are found and where they go. This helps inform where protected areas should be. Māui dolphins are easy to spot as they have a rounded ("Mickey Mouse") dorsal fin rather than a triangular or sickle-shaped fin like most dolphins.


Department of Conservation
Phone: +64 4 496 1911

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