Deaddolphin washes ashore at Waikanae
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.
The battered body of a 2.5-metre marine mammal was found washed ashore at Waikanae Beach, north of Wellington, on Tuesday.
Department of Conservation staff and local iwi were alerted, and the animal was later identified as a Risso’s dolphin – the same species as Pelorus Jack, famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in the Cook Strait, between 1888 and 1912.
What was less clear was how the dolphin died. ’’It could be related to underlying illness or old age. No sign of injury was seen,’’ biodiversity senior ranger Brent Tandy said.
Measurements were taken of the dolphin for comparison within the species, and to assess its age and condition.
‘‘A small skin sample is taken for a tissue sample database that can be used for DNA analysis,’’ Tandy said.
Risso’s dolphins are not considered endangered, and can be found in the temperate and tropical zones of all the world’s oceans.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List puts them in its lowest risk category.
Tandy said the dolphin would be buried on the beach.
Te tiawa ki Whakarongotai Charitable Trust environmental consultant Mahina-a-rangi Baker said wherever the dolphin was buried, the iwi would be a kaitiaki, or guardian.
‘‘Just make sure it’s resting with dignity and well protected.’’
In 2014 a humpbackA¯ whale washed ashore on Waikanae Beach.
The marine mammal was washed ashore at the high tide mark, near the northern end of the beach.