How to report marine mammal sightings
IntroductionReport marine mammal sightings to help us with population sizes, breeding rates and movement patterns.
In this section
What to report
Help us by reporting:
- seals with tags
- sea lions.
Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see:
- an entangled, stranded or dead marine mammal.
- a Hector's or Māui dolphin between Raglan and Wellington, or on the south or east coast of the North Island
Report your sightings
The best way to report your marine mammal sightings is to download the SeaSpotter app:
You can also report your sighting online.
The SeaSpotter app is a joint initiative between DOC, WWF, Christchurch City Council, MPI, MAUI63, and Microsoft.
Data submitted to the app is logged in an open-source database to be used by government staff and researchers. For more information, visit the SeaSpotter website.
Your privacy on the SeaSpotter app
You can report your sighting anonymously using the app. But if you make an account using your name and email address you can view and track your sightings and support marine scientists.
Your personal details may be used to follow up on your sighting by government staff or researchers. The app also requires access to phone location data.
Make lots of notes, draw pictures if need be. Photos and video footage are very useful.
- marine mammals of New Zealand poster
- whale identification poster (PDF, 4,400K)
- whale identification flip cards (PDF, 9,600)
- how to spot Hector’s/Māui dolphin, southern right whales, humpback whales, and blue whales brochure (PDF, 1,058K)
- old marine mammal sighting form (PDF, 403K) includes images of marine mammals to help with species identification.
What happens with your report
Sightings reported directly to the Department or to the SeaSpotter app are recorded in a DOC 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.
Why reporting helps
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. Sightings help us to do this.