Te Waewae - a Marine Mammal Sanctuary?

Te Waewae is a very special place for Pahu and a special place for our Operation Pahu campaign leader Grant Meikle (Ngai Tahu). We've patrolled Te Waewae several times this year and the most Hector’s we have counted is 121 including the very distinctive "Marilyn" with the split dorsal fin - seen pictured. Working with scientists our current estimate for the whole bay is around 200 (watch out for more information to follow). There would have been as many as 500 in the 1970’s. There’s lots of anecdotal evidence from this area pointing to high levels of dolphin bycatch – 10 years ago there was about one Hector’s caught for every four to six tonnes of rig (from a Te Waewae Bay fishermen who requested anonymity via personal communication, 2008.)
Unbelievably Te Waewae is a Marine Mammal Sanctuary where commercial fishing is allowed! If that sounds confusing we’d have to agree but maybe with the change of Government and a welcome shift back to real conservation this can be revised?

                                     Bow riding Pahu, Port Craig, Te Waewae

Curio and Porpoise Bay - Catlins

Patrolling Curio and Porpoise Bay in the Catlins; pictured here with some of our clients. The Catlins is a growing tourist area and people from all over the world come here to see the Pahu (Hector’s dolphins) which can often be seen just from the beach.  The incorrectly named “Porpoise Bay” comes from a time when early European settlers had no idea Pahu were endemic inshore dolphins only found in Aotearoa. We’ve patrolled here a number of times in the Loki and observed up to fifteen individuals. Ten years ago DOC estimated there were fifty.

                                                Commercial fishing vessel in vicinity