15 Sep 2013

Kaipara Maui's dolphin 'died of old age'

5:05 am on 15 September 2013

A dead dolphin found near the Northland town of Dargaville has been identified as a Maui's dolphin.

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said the carcass has been examined by Massey University's specialist marine mammal unit in Palmerston North. It was found to be a female that died of old age.

The Government is soon to finalise the Threat Management Plan for the Maui's dolphin and Dr Smith said it would have been of major concern if they had found that the death was due to set netting.

He said the location of the carcass suggests the dolphin died in Kaipara Harbour, where many of the small number of Maui's dolphins live.

"I am encouraged by the preliminary result that the dolphin was most probably a Maui's but was a very old female. There are no signs of nets or any human induced-caused death or from disease."

Dr Smith said a final report on the mammal's death will probably take a few weeks as DNA testing will need to be done.

The carcass was found by a recreational fisherman within the North Island West Coast marine mammal sanctuary on Friday.

In 2012 a study commissioned by DoC estimated there were only 55 Maui's dolphins of breeding age