Dolphin stranded in Northland has been put down

Hapū are helping the Department of Conservation with the stranded dolphin.

Evan Davies DOC/Supplied

Hapū are helping the Department of Conservation with the stranded dolphin.

A dolphin that was stranded twice near Whangārei has been put down to save it from distress and further strandings.

The fully grown dolphin, believed to be a bottlenose, was first spotted on Tuesday night stranded on Ngunguru Sandspit.

Department of Conservation staff, working with Project Jonah and local hapū – Ngati Taka, Ngati Korora and Te Waiariki – managed to refloat the dolphin.

However, the dolphin was again found stranded on Tuesday morning, DOC spokesperson Abigail Monteith said.

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Multiple attempts to refloat the dolphin were unsuccessful, with the dolphin displaying signs of distress and persistently returning to the shoreline, she said.

“Subsequently, a joint decision was reached by local iwi, marine experts, and the Department of Conservation that the most compassionate course of action for the dolphin’s welfare was euthanasia.”


A marine mammal sanctuary in Northland’s Bay of Islands is helping dolphins act normally and care for their young, DOC says. (Video first published August 2022)

A karakia was performed by hapū and the dolphin will be buried on site.

The dolphin appears to be about 3.2m long, 350-400kg, fully grown and had no obvious injuries.

It was believed to be a bottlenose dolphin, although the species is now uncertain.

There are about 450 bottlenose dolphins in the upper North Island and their coastal habitat makes them susceptible to human impacts, according to DOC.

In December 2021, a marine mammal sanctuary was introduced in the Bay of Islands – about 100km north of the stranding – to help reverse a decline in bottlenose dolphin numbers.

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