Dolphin washed up on Auckland beach found decapitated

Source: 1News

The Department of Conservation wants to find the person responsible for decapitating a washed-up dolphin on an Auckland beach on Thursday.

Stock image of a dolphin washed up on a beach.

The striped dolphin washed up on Auckland's Karioitahi Beach on Wednesday evening but was found beheaded by Thursday morning.

It is an offence to mutilate dead marine mammals and the Department of Conservation said it was keen to follow the incident up and hear from anyone who has information about it.

"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," DOC biodiversity ranger Olivia Keane said.

"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."

Striped dolphins are similar in size to common dolphins and can grow to around 2.5m long. In New Zealand they are often seen with common dolphins and prefer offshore waters, DOC said. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as a vulnerable species.

"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 two years in prison, or a fine of up to $250,000," DOC said.

Anyone with information can contact the department on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or wildlifecrime@doc.govt.nz.