Given it is an offence to mutilate dead marine mammals, the Department of Conservation is keen to follow the incident up and wants to hear from anyone who has information about it.
DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Olivia Keane says tampering with dead marine animals is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act.
“We received a report that a washed-up dolphin was on the beach. Washed-up marine mammals are not uncommon, and we expect people to leave them alone.
“What we don’t expect is for people to mutilate this treasured species in a disrespectful way for commercial or personal gain. We are actively investigating this incident including reviewing surveillance footage of the area and would appreciate any information from the public.”
The dolphin is believed to be a striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba and is similar in size to a common dolphin and can grow to about 2.5m long. They are found throughout tropical and temperate seas worldwide and can be seen in large groups of up to thousands of animals. In New Zealand they are often seen in association with common dolphins and prefer offshore waters.
In New Zealand they are classified as Data Deficient as there is not enough information to assign them a threat classification status in our waters. The IUCN classifies them as Vulnerable.
Separating any part of the carcass of a marine mammal is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act and anyone caught can face up to 2 years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000.