Marine mammal sightings

New Zealand has earned its reputation as the marine mammal capital of the world because of its profusion of marine mammals. The Department of Conservation is responsible for the protection, conservation and management of all marine mammals. 

To understand more about marine mammals in our waters we need more information about them. This is where you can help by reporting sightings.

Identification tips

Get a good look, be observant, especially of the tail, fins and head. Make lots of notes, draw pictures if need be; photos and video footage are very useful.

Report your sightings

Use the online form to report a whale or dolphin sighting. Your sighting report will be recorded in a database of marine mammal sightings from all around New Zealand.

This information will help us determine things like population sizes, breeding rates and movement patterns. This helps us to look after them.

Download sightings brochures

Marine mammal sighting form (PDF, 416K) or (Word, 4,300K). These forms include images of marine mammals to help with species identification.

Have you seen me? brochure (PDF, 416K) Report marine mammal sightings and learn more about spotting Hector’s/Māui dolphin, southern right whales, humpback whales, and blue whales.

Call DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see


Find out more

Learn more


DOC 24 hour emergency hotline:
0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

Phone to report:

Seals severely injured, entangled, or being harassed by people or dogs
Whale or dolphin strandings
Sick or injured wildlife

For other enquiries, contact your nearest DOC office