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