Report whale and dolphin sightings, and New Zealand sea lions, seals with tags, and other seal species.

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New Zealand has earned its reputation as the marine mammal capital of the world because of its profusion of marine mammals. DOC 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.

Report whale and dolphin sightings; and sightings of NZ sea lions, seals with tags, or unusual seal species such as leopard, weddel, ross, and crabeater seals that may have ventured up from Antarctica.

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.

Check out these posters and flip cards for help identifying common whale species within New Zealand; includes comparisons of dorsal fins, tail flukes, surface behaviour, and blow patterns.

Report your sightings

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

Alternatively, you can download the Hector's Dolphin Sightings App to report all your marine mammal sightings. The app was developed by Whale and Dolphin Conservation and SaferMe in collaboration with DOC. The data collected by the app gets shared directly with DOC.

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, 403K) or (Word, 4,403K). These forms include images of marine mammals to help with species identification.

Have you seen me? brochure (PDF, 1,058K) Report marine mammal sightings and learn more about spotting Hector’s/Māui dolphin, southern right whales, humpback whales, and blue whales.

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

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