First Hourglass Dolphin in 150 Years Found on New Zealand Shores

hourglass dolphin photo

Image credit: Massey University

When Dr. Karen Stockin, a marine ecologist at Massey University in New Zealand, was called in to perform an autopsy, she was expecting to find a carcass of the relatively common dusky dolphin. Instead, she was surprised to see that it was, in fact, an hourglass dolphin—the first to wash up on the shores of New Zealand in more than 150 years.The elusive hourglass dolphin gets its name from the distinctive pattern of coloration on its sides. Typically, pods of hourglass dolphins remain in the Southern Ocean, close to Antarctica. Only occasionally do they venture north, near the shores of New Zealand's Southern Island.

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So little is known about the species that the discovery marks an important opportunity to compile missing data about its biology and ecology. Dr. Stockin explained:

Having access to this carcass is incredibly exciting for us as so little is known about these animals, their diet and biology...this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to collect detailed data and to add significantly to the scant knowledge of this species.

Once the post-mortem is complete, researchers hope to store the samples at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, for future study.

Read more about dolphins:
Scientists Say Dolphins Should Be Granted Human Non-Human Person Status
New Discoveries in Dolphin Communication Reveal Use of Diplomacy to Avoid Fights
Did Hurricane Katrina Cause a Dolphin Baby Boom?

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