An autopsy will be undertaken to find out what caused the
death of an endangered Hector's dolphin found washed up on a
beach in the Blueskin Bay estuary, north of Dunedin, over the
Department of Conservation marine ranger Jim Fyfe said he was
alerted on Saturday by a resident who reported spotting its
remains among the branches of a tree that had fallen into the
It was not there when he visited, but, after more phone
calls, Mr Fyfe eventually found it washed up on a beach near
the Mapoutahi Pa site yesterday and recovered it.
The body of the mature female showed no obvious signs
pointing to a cause of death, but its remains would be sent
to Massey University in Wellington for an autopsy, he said.
That was something that happened each time a dead Hector's
dolphin washed ashore, because the population was so
vulnerable, he said.
The discovery comes after dolphins were spotted in Otago
Harbour last week, but Mr Fyfe said they were bottlenose
dolphins and the dead Hector's dolphin was not part of the
Warrington resident Susan Wigmore told the Otago Daily
Times she made the find while out walking dogs on
''We were throwing sticks into the water for the dogs to
fetch and we came across this poor little dolphin stuck in
''It was on its side, just on the water line. It was really
sad to see.''
She feared the dolphin may have become trapped in the
branches of pine trees that had fallen into the estuary
channel after erosion in the area.
However, Mr Fyfe thought the body may have washed in and out
of the tree branches sometime after its death.
''They [Hector's dolphins] echo-locate and they have a fairly
good sense of space within the marine environment.''
The area was known to be home to about 40 of the about 7000
Hector's dolphins found only in New Zealand waters, he said.
Results of the autopsy were expected to take several weeks.