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Hector's dolphin hacked in half in Kaikoura

11 November 2003 Media Statement

Hector's dolphin hacked in half in Kaikoura

The discovery late last night of a butchered carcass of a Hectors dolphin was a sad commentary on the plight of one of the world's rarest marine mammals, Conservation Minister Chris Carter said today.

The top three-quarters of a Hector's dolphin was found washed up on the beach at Kaikoura shortly before 9pm last night and reported to Department of Conservation staff. The rear part of its body has not been found.

"It seems almost certain from the injuries to the dolphin's body that it has been hacked in two with some sort of knife. We won't know more about what killed the dolphin until an autopsy has been carried out by Massey University staff," Mr Carter said.

"This is a deeply disturbing incident. Hector's dolphins are one of the world's rarest marine mammals and each individual of this species counts. Cutting one of them in half is a little like destroying a treasured New Zealand art work."

Mr Carter said the dolphin was by no means the first marine mammal to turn up mangled on New Zealand's coastline. At least two Hector's dolphins had already drowned in set nets off the Kaikoura coast alone in just under a year.

"The Kaikoura Boating Club and Kaikoura Recreational Fishing Association have a voluntary set net ban in place on open beaches on the Kaikoura coast to prevent Hector's dolphin deaths and this is a terrific local response. Unfortunately, dolphin deaths are still occurring and more needs to be done.

"Dolphins and other marine mammals are a key feature on the Kaikoura coastline and attract many tourists to the region. It is in the interests of the local and wider community to protect them," Mr Carter said.

"Last week I announced plans to develop with fishing interests a national threat minimisation plan to reduce marine mammal deaths in our waters. New Zealand's commercial users of the sea realise the importance of these species but unfortunately the problem is not theirs alone. Irresponsible boating and fishing by recreational users can also have a disturbing impact on dolphins, seals and whales," Mr Carter said.

"This incident is a timely reminder to everyone using the sea this summer to be to mindful that actions in and on the water may have consequences for our remarkable marine life."

ENDS

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