October 2020
This guide will help you identify some of the marine mammals you may encounter at sea.


This guide describes some of New Zealand's protected marine mammals. New Zealand has a diverse range of marine mammals and almost half of the world's cetaceans live in or visit our waters. All marine mammals are legally protected in New Zealand under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. 

Fishers may encounter these species during their time at sea. Therefore, Fisheries New Zealand reporting codes are included, for use if incidental captures occur during commercial fishing.

As a companion to the other protected species identification guides, this guide continues the "Fisher's guide to" series. Its goal is to help people identify and appreciate some of our commonly encountered protected marine mammals. We recognise that fishers are more likely to see these animals than almost all other New Zealanders.

Publication information

Designed by Port Group Ltd.

Technical review by Marine Bycatch and Threats Team, Department of Conservation.

Last updated January 2024.


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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