What we need you to know about our wild dolphins!


First they are completely wild, we do not feed then, train them, nor are they in one place, they are constantly moving, and we never know where they might be.

They do not just live here in the bay of islands, their home range is from the top of New Zealand right down to Tauranga, over 500 miles. They can be anywhere along the east coast.

But the Bay of Islands is an important area to the dolphins and they do come and go here a lot. They come here to feed, socialise and rest.

We have a marine mammal permit which allows us to interact with wild dolphins, which means we have a lot of rules and regulation to comply with, all for the protection of the dolphins.

Two important rules are:

Within our area we have two sanctuary marine mammal Zones that we do not go to interact with dolphins, this is because the dolphins need areas to rest and feed in without disturbance.

Another rule you need to know about is that we do not interact with Bottlenose dolphin before 12pm, after 12pm we can view and follow Bottlenose dolphins. All other other marine mammals, common dolphins, seals, and orca we can see at any time.

These are new rules put in place by DOC to help protect the bay of islands dolphins as the Bottlenose dolphins are endangered and their population in to the Bay is declining.

Know your Dolphins

The more we understand dolphins, the easier it is to make better management decisions and policies.

By supporting a wide range of research from Carino NZ we can contribute to the marine mammal sightings database and in doing so better protect the marine environment of the Bay of Islands Maritime Park.

Researchers use natural markings on marine mammals to recognise individuals with in a population.  Individual dolphins have unique marking on their dorsal fins that allow us to identify them.  Usually found on the trailing edge of the dorsal fin (nicks and notches).

Here are a few of the Bottlenose dolphin we know by sight.


BOI 290 – Bad Jelly

Bottlenose Dolphins in the Bay of Islands

Bad Jelly

First Seen: Oct 1994

Sex: Female

The dolphin on the right is called Bad Jelly as her dorsal fin is shaped like a witch’s hat and she is named for the story Bad Jelly the Witch.  We don’t know when she was born but she has been in the bay for at least 25 years.  We know she has had at least four babies and she is a successful mother






BOI 514 Ripper

Local Dolphin Ripper


First seen: 2009

Sex: Male

Ripper has become a regular user to the bay since 2009. He has strong friendship bonds with Three Prong, Flip and Kermit, other males. Be sure to keep an eye out for this dolphin as you are highly likely to see him





Two Stroke

Born: 2005

Sex: FemaleBay of Islands Dolphins

Two Stroke was born in 2005.  She was struck by a boat when she was only a few weeks old and her mother brought her over to Carino NZ to shelter, we were not sure if she would survive. You can see the white scar strip on her side; this is from a propeller from a boat. Now she is a regular user of the Bay, we are expecting her to have her own baby calf soon. Often she will come to the back of Carino NZ and rub on the rudders, she knows us well!






Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research.

Here are some projects that we are supporting at the moment. We would love for you to get involved!