Experts

Experts work to identify marine mammal washed ashore north of Wellington

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

The body of what is suspected to be a dolphin, on Waikanae Beach, on the Kapiti Coast.

It was a lonely death – the waves floating its body to the high-tide mark, a few metres from the dunes that marked the end of the beach.

Department of Conservation staff and local iwi members are examining the body of a marine mammal, found washed ashore at Waikanae Beach, north of Wellington.

Shortly before midday on Tuesday, three staff and several iwi officers were at the scene measuring the about 2.5 metre long, pale, battered-looking animal, and identifying its species.

The marine mammal was washed ashore at the high tide mark, very near the end of the beach.

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

The marine mammal was washed ashore at the high tide mark, very near the end of the beach.

Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust environmental consultant Mahina-a-rangi Baker said the creature was thought to be a dolphin.

READ MORE:
​* Humpback washes ashore in Kapiti

Others at the scene said it could be a pilot whale  which,  despite the name, is in fact one of the largest members of the dolphin family.

Beach walkers get a surprise on Waikanae Beach, north of Wellington.

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

Beach walkers get a surprise on Waikanae Beach, north of Wellington.

Baker said DOC and iwi experts would work to identify the species – taking measurements and tissue samples. 

“We have our own processes in iwi where we might think about if we do want to do some sort of genetic analysis and what we want to find out. DOC will use that information to confirm the species, and they’ll have their own research questions.”

The decision on what would be done with the body would be made between DOC and the iwi, with the body likely to be buried.

Department of Conservation and iwi staff take measurements.

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

Department of Conservation and iwi staff take measurements.

“Wherever it does end up being interred, we are the kaitiaki and the protector of it, and making sure it is well protected … just make sure it’s resting with dignity and well-protected.”

In 2014 a  humpback whale about 10 metres long washed ashore on Waikanae Beach, several kilometres to the south.
 

The scene on Waikanae Beach after the discovery of a dead dolphin or whale, with Department of Conservation and  iwi ...

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

The scene on Waikanae Beach after the discovery of a dead dolphin or whale, with Department of Conservation and iwi staff on hand.

The examination of the marine mammal  at Waikanae Beach.

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

The examination of the marine mammal at Waikanae Beach.


 – Stuff

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