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DoC Concerned about Bay of Islands Dolphin Deaths

DoC Concerned about Dolphin Deaths in the Bay of Islands

The Department of Conservation is asking people in the Bay of Islands to keep their eyes open for any dead dolphins in the area following the discovery of four marine mammals near Cape Brett in the last week.

Russell Field Centre supervisor Clint McGee said two dead common dolphins were reported washed up on the beach at Deep Water Cove last Thursday by a crayfish fisherman, with another one reported by a local tourist operator the following day off Cape Brett.

DoC staff spent Friday and the weekend on the water patrolling for any more marine mammals and on Sunday received a report from a tourist operator of a dead bottlenose dolphin also in the same area.

Mr McGee said blubber, skin and stomach samples have been taken from all the animals with a number of possible causes being investigated. These include dumped fishing bycatch, possible effects of the oilspill or some internal disease.

At this stage no oil traces have been found in the stomach contents of the animals although this has not ruled the possibility of the oil spill being a factor.

“It is early days yet as far as determining what has been the cause of these deaths and while we don’t know whether the deaths are linked, are taking the matter very seriously,” Mr McGee said.

Mr McGee said the efforts of local charter boat operators, fishermen and tourist operators had been vital to their recovery work and were much appreciated by DoC staff.

DoC has also been working with marine mammal experts from Massey University and local iwi on the issue.

ends

For more information please contact Clint McGee or Alan Fleming on (09) 403 7685

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