The Department of Conservation (DOC) is appealing to the public to respect the remains of marine mammals after an incident with a whale on the East Coast last week.
DOC says a decased 14.2 m long baleen whale washed ashore at the northern end of Tokomaru Bay on 2 October.
The department received some disturbing reports of members of the public attempting to remove pieces of the whale and causing damage to the body, Gisborne Biodiversity Ranger, Jamie Quirk revealed today.
“In New Zealand, all whales are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act,” says Mr Quirk.
“It is an offence to interfere with the dead bodies of whales and anyone caught could face prosecution.
“We should have respect for our wildlife, dead or alive.”
DOC is investigating the events with the assistance of New Zealand Police.
If you see a beached whale, dead or alive, call 0800 DOC HOT.
The whale’s remains have since been reclaimed by the sea, Mr Quirk confirmed.
Learn more about New Zealand’s whales and DOC’s role in their protection.