Date: 14 September 2013 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
A dead dolphin, likely to be a critically endangered Māui, was found yesterday by a recreational fisher at Glinks Gully, 15 kilometres south of Dargaville, within the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.
“I am saddened by this reported Māui dolphin death because with an estimated population of just 55 adults, the loss of even one of these mammals puts at further risk the survival of their species,” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The location and visual description make it likely that it is a Māui dolphin but we will not know for sure until formal identification occurs. Nor do we know whether the dolphin died from old age, disease, fishing or some other human cause. The currents in this area drift to the north so it is likely the death occurred somewhere around Kaipara Harbour, a common habitat for the Māui dolphin.
“The dead dolphin was retrieved by DOC staff last night and is being transported to Massey University’s specialist marine mammal unit in Palmerston North to establish as much information as possible. The information about the age, identity of the dolphin and cause of death is required so we can make the best possible decisions about protecting these special creatures.
“I will be particularly concerned if the dolphin is found to have died from set netting as this is prohibited in the area in which the dolphin was found.”
The Government last week announced a proposed extension to the set net fishing ban area by 350 square kilometres off the coast of Taranaki, at the extremity of the Māui dolphin range. The proposal is out of consultation until 10 October. The Government will finalise the Threat Management Plan for the Māui dolphin once the consultation period is completed.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions about this sad find. I have asked the scientific investigation into the death to be concluded as quickly as possible so it can be used to help inform decisions on the Threat Management Plan for the Māui dolphin,” Dr Smith says.
- Hector's and Māui dolphin incidents
- Māui dolphin
- Consultation on proposed variation to the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary