Common dolphins
Image: Terry C. Greene | DOC

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


DOC is asking for information from the public after receiving reports of a mutilated dolphin carcass.

Date:  15 September 2021

DOC received reports last week of a common dolphin which had washed ashore at Huia Beach in Auckland.

Subsequent reports and a photograph provided to DOC showed the dolphin’s carcass appeared to have been mutilated by a person, with the mammal’s head cut off.

DOC Principal Compliance Officer, Dylan Swain says this disturbing act is completely unacceptable.

“Dead marine mammals washing ashore is not uncommon and we ask people to let them be and decompose naturally. As Auckland is at Alert Level 4 we are only responding to wildlife emergencies in this region until the time comes where we can safely dispose of the animals if need be.

“We are disappointed people disrespecting and mutilating marine mammals. Dolphins are a taonga species and it is our duty to respect them in life and in death.

“This act is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act. An investigation is underway to find out who did this.”

Dylan Swain says the public’s information is vital to the investigation and he urged anyone in the community to come forward if they had details of the mutilation of the deceased dolphin.

Short-beaked common dolphins are found in waters throughout New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand, this species tends to remain a few kilometres from the coast and is particularly common in the Hauraki Gulf and off Northland.

Separating any part of the carcass of a marine mammal is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and anyone caught will face up to 2 years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000.

Any information relating to this, or any other allegations of New Zealand native wildlife crime should be directed to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or


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