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


Boat strike and drowning through net entanglement have been ruled out as potential causes of death of the dolphin believed to be Moko.

Date:  15 July 2010

Boat strike and drowning through net entanglement have been ruled out as potential causes of death of the dolphin carcass believed to be Moko, washed up on Matakana Island, near Tauranga last week.

In the post mortem report released today, Massey University pathologists state that “there were no obvious signs of extensive bruising or of any skeletal fractures, making blunt trauma an unlikely cause of death” and that none of the usual signs of drowning (from accidental capture in a net) were present.

Whilst ruling out these potential causes, the report also states that the pathologists have been “unable to establish cause of death due to post mortem decomposition”. The only potential contributing factor that has been identified is evidence of liver disease; however the specifics around type and severity of this disease cannot be identified due to the degraded state of the dolphin’s body.

Although DNA results could still be eight weeks away, the pathologists have made careful examination of the bent and broken teeth of the dolphin carcass, comparing them to photos of Moko, and concluded that they are in exactly the same positions and angles; therefore it is highly unlikely to be the body of any other dolphin.

Announcements were made yesterday that Moko’s final resting place will be Matakana Island and a memorial service is to be held in Whakatane. DOC spokesperson, Katrina Knill says that the exact timing and details have yet to be confirmed by local iwi but the public service at Mataatua Reserve in Whakatane is likely to take place at midday tomorrow (Friday). We’ll continue to keep people informed as information is available”.

Ms Knill also says that the Department is grateful for the assistance and co-operation they have received from the universities, iwi, business and the wider community “many people have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help us work through this”.

“We’re sorry that we can’t shed any more light on the cause of Moko’s death but we share the community’s grief at his loss and hope that his legacy will be an increased level of consideration and care for the marine environment and its inhabitants by all New Zealanders.”


Moko the bottlenose dolphin

Media releases:

Moko found dead on Matakana Island 8 July 2010

Moko removed from Matakana 8 July 2010

Moko at Massey 9 July 2010

DOC awaits Moko post mortem 12 July 2010

Moko to return to Matakana 14 July 2010


Katrina Knill
Community Relations Programme Manager, Tauranga Area Office
Ph: +64 7 571 2737

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