Dead dolphins reported in Kaipara may have starved
Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai
15th October 2003
The Department of Conservation has received a report from a Ministry of Fisheries officer of four more dead dolphins floating in Kaipara Harbour yesterday (Tuesday, 14th of October).
The Department of Conservation is seeking to confirm the report, which is likely to involve a physical search of the area today (Wednesday, 15th of October). Strong winds and fading daylight prevented a thorough search of the area on Tuesday afternoon.
Tim Brandenburg, Department of Conservation Kauri Coast Area Manager, said: “We will do our best to locate the dead dolphins and we intend to recover as many carcasses as we can. These will also be examined to see if their cause of death is consistent with those recovered last weekend.”
Results of the autopsy performed at Massey University received this morning (15th of October) have not revealed any evidence of fisheries bycatch and none of intoxication. In fact these dolphins had not eaten in many days and had marked atrophy of muscle, loss of blubber, dehydration, and empty gastrointestinal tracts.
Common dolphins are an oceanic species and these had evidence of cookie cutter (shark) bites and squid sucker marks, which is consistent with an open ocean habitat. It is possible that they ended up in Kaipara Harbour by accident, could not find their way out again, and could not find enough suitable food to support them.
A pod of seven or eight common dolphins had been sighted swimming in the Otamatea River area in the Kaipara Harbour on Thursday (9th October). DOC had also received information that a pod of dolphins was spotted near Kaipara Heads the same day.