Boaties warned about safety of dolphins in Wellington harbour

Press Release – Department of Conservation
Department of Conservation staff have responded to reports of jet-ski and boats seen travelling at speed through a pod of dolphins in the Wellington Harbour earlier this week.

‘This is a good reminder to boaties to be mindful of dolphins and other marine mammals in the inner Wellington Harbour and off the South Coast,’ said DOC Ranger David Moss.

A large pod of dolphins was seen feeding in the Wellington Harbour near Evans Bay on Monday night. A boat travelling through the pod risked causing distress to the pod, and separating mothers from calves.

While jet-skis are more manouverable, they are quieter underwater than normal boats, making them harder for dolphins to detect and avoid.

DOC staff talked to boat drivers and explained the serious risk of propeller strike to dolphins and the stress caused by herding the animals. ‘The likelihood of striking a dolphin or whale and causing injury or death decreases when you reduce your speed on the water. Jumping dolphins is not a sign of them having fun, it is often a sign of stress,’ said David Moss.

Boats should only approach dolphins from the side or rear of the pod and be travelling at a “no wake speed.”

Marine mammals in New Zealand are legally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1978) — anyone who accidentally kills or injures a marine mammal is required to report the incident to a fishery officer or the Department of Conservation within 48 hours.

Sightings of dolphins can be reported to the Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOTline (0800 362 468) and there are also online forms on the website: http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/marine-
mammals/marine-mammal-sightings/marine-mammal-sighting-form/

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