A rare subantarctic dolphin has been found on New Zealand shores in Southland and it might be connected to climate change.
The hourglass dolphin washed up on Orepuki beach in Southland on Wednesday.
Dolphin researcher Gemma McGrath said it was only the third time an hourglass dolphin had been found in New Zealand and only eight have ever been researched worldwide.
It was a pretty amazing experience to see one up close, it was even rare for fisherman to spot them, she said.
Although, it would be hard to say with concrete evidence that climate change had caused the male dolphin to move north it could be a possibility, McGrath said.
Climate change also could be having an effect on food patterns and currents, which might be changing its world, she said.
Hourglass dolphins swim in the subantarctic waters and swim deep water so were rarely seen, she said.
“It is one of the least known dolphins in the world.”
It has not scarring or bleeding on it but it had very worn teeth. It might have died peacefully of old age.
It could have a stomach full of plastic, but they wouldn’t know until they saw the results, she said
Oraka-Aparima chairman Stewart Bull said the dolphin would be taken to Massey University to determine its cause of death.
The last time an hourglass dolphin was found in New Zealand was in Akaroa in 2010.