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


DOC is asking people to respect the remains of marine mammals after an incident with a whale on the East Coast last week.

Date:  14 October 2021

The 14.2 m long baleen whale washed ashore at the northern end of Tokomaru Bay on 2 October. Investigations revealed the whale died at sea.

DOC received some disturbing reports of members of the public attempting to remove pieces of the whale and causing damage to the body.

“In New Zealand, all whales are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act,” says Jamie Quirk, Gisborne Biodiversity Ranger for DOC.

“It is an offence to interfere with the dead bodies of whales and anyone caught could face prosecution.

“We should have respect for our wildlife, dead or alive.”

DOC is investigating these events, with the assistance of New Zealand Police. If you see a beached whale, dead or alive, call 0800 DOC HOT.

The whale’s remains have since been reclaimed by the sea.

Learn more about New Zealand’s whales and DOC’s role in their protection.

Background information

Whales and other wild animals can carry viruses and pathogens that are dangerous to humans. All staff working with carcasses must wear PPE to protect themselves.

Protect yourself and your whānau by keeping a respectful distance and not handling any parts of the dead animal.

Penalties for breaching the Marine Mammals Protection Act can range up to two years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000.


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