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One saved, one lost in Makorori strandings

A pair of dolphins, possibly mother and calf, beached on Makorori Beach yesterday morning, but despite hours of effort only one could be saved.

“It's sad but that's nature,” Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk said after exhaustive but unsuccessful efforts to save the adult.

The pair, an older female and a juvenile, both common dolphins, were reported stranded “virtually side-by-side” by beach-goers at 6am.

“People had put the bigger one out into the ocean first and the smaller one second,” said Mr Quirk. “The bigger one went out to sea for some period of time and then the smaller one drifted further along the shore and restranded a number of times.

“We got him out to sea and got it away. Meanwhile, the first one came back into the same location and was put out again by someone else, but then came back again.”

A fourth attempt was made to put the older dolphin back into the ocean but it once again circled back on to shore.

“So we took the step to euthanise it as it was starting to get stressed.”

Mr Quirk said it was suspected the older dolphin had stranded due to age.

“She had worn front teeth and was in moderate to poor condition. The juvenile was in good shape and was swimming quite well but continually wanted to come back up the beach.”

The juvenile had probably already been weaned and the older dolphin was not lactating, so had no milk to feed the younger one.

“Why they strand like this is hard to say, that's nature.”

It is the second time in three weeks dolphins have washed up on beaches here.

“The one two weeks ago was a common dolphin, which was dead and washed ashore at Okitu.”

Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Jamie Quirk (left) and beach-goer Hayden Wilson with an adult dolphin that stranded itself on Makorori Beach yesterday. The dolphin refused to stay in the water and continually stranded itself before the decision was made to euthanise it. 'It's sad but that's nature,' said Mr Quirk. A younger dolphin also stranded itself but was successfully put back into the ocean. Picture by Liam Clayton