Introduction

The Department of Conservation is concerned by several reports of Hector’s dolphins being harassed by water craft around Banks Peninsula.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is concerned by several reports of Hector’s dolphins being harassed by water craft around Banks Peninsula.

DOC’s Akaroa Field Ranger, Derek Cox, regularly patrols the waters around the peninsula and is worried about the safety of these rare and vulnerable dolphins.

Hector's dolphin mother and calf, Banks Peninsula. Photo: A Hutt.
Hector's dolphin mother and calf, Banks Peninsula

“Jet skiers have caused particular concern in recent years,” says Cox.

“Please be aware of the dolphins when out on the water. They can be very friendly and inquisitive. Obey the marine mammal regulations and slow right down or stop when near them.”

Hector’s dolphins/upokohue come close inshore to breed during the summer months. Unfortunately, this is also when numbers of boats and jet skis increase, especially over the holiday season in Akaroa and Lyttelton harbours.

Newborn dolphins are particularly vulnerable to injury as they swim close to the surface and relatively slowly. Some have been killed by boat propellers, when unwary boaties have run them over.
 
“Let the dolphins come to you and if they decide to move away, let them go,” says Cox.

“Making sudden changes in speed or direction should be avoided especially around mothers and calves who are unable to react as fast as adult dolphins.”

Derek Cox will be patrolling the coastline over the holidays along with ranger, Steve Parker, who will also be at boat ramps, providing information to the public.

“Report any incidents where marine mammals are being harassed or these rules are not being followed, to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468),” Cox requests.

“Your call could prevent the unnecessary death of a dolphin calf.”

The following rules apply when sharing the water with any marine mammal:

  • Ensure that you travel no faster than idle or 'no wake' speed within 300 metres of any marine mammal.
  • Approach whales and dolphins from behind and to the side.
  • Do not circle them, obstruct their path or cut through any group.
  • There should be no more than three vessels and/or aircraft within 300 metres of any marine mammal.
  • Idle slowly away. Speed may be gradually increased to out-distance dolphins and should not exceed 10 knots within 300 metres of any dolphin.

Fore more information visit www.doc.govt.nz/sharingcoasts.

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