Dead­dol­phin washes ashore at Waikanae

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JOEL MAXWELL

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.

PHOTO: JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

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

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