TODAY |

Far North iwi say they've euthanised dolphins injured by boaties

Conservationists are pleading with those operating boats and jetskis to take more care around dolphins, with some of the marine mammals washing up dead or injured as a result of reckless boaties.

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Local iwi have euthansised two of the marine creatures already this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Video was captured in the Far North by Kaitaia local Naomi Austin-Reid last week showed dolphins were being chased into shore by boaties.

Conservationists are now urging holiday makers to watch marine mammals from a distance.

“The biggest thing here is it's disturbing their behaviour and that means where choosing what the dolphins are going to do rather than the dolphins being able to choose it themselves,” Department of Conservation scientist Catherine Peters said.

Local iwi has euthanised two dolphins already this year.

“On New Year’s Day we had to shoot out to another remote location within our rohe and a dolphin had washed up and he or she had signs of trauma along it's back from boating,” Ngāti Kurī iwi member Hine Waitai said.

“A few of us are trained to refloat and rehabilitate we attempted four refloats but the injuries were just too extensive so we had to make the call to euthanise.”

The mammals are in decline in the North.

“We’re now in 91 per cent decline for the local population in the Bay of Islands we have just 26 dolphins left so it's really important that we step back,” Peters said.

“We’re in the stage where we could make the difference to having dolphins right now in the future or not at all.”

Speed is limited to five knots near dolphins and no more than three boats are allowed within 300 metres of them.

Swimming is allowed, but not with calves.

“The easiest thing to do is stop, give them some space and let them come to you and you see some amazing dolphin behaviours if you do that and a far better interaction if you let them come to you,” Peters said.

Those caught breaking the rules face fines of up to $1600.

“It's been gut wrenching actually that these animals are dying because we're trying to have some more fun in the sun,” Waitai said.

A mammal marine sanctuary has been proposed for the entire Bay of Islands that would restrict all vessel traffic.

It's currently with the Minister of Conservation and goes out for public consultation next month.