The victim of a suspicious death in Nelson lived on a boat often seen in the area where his body was found.

Police this morning named the man as 55-year-old John Murray Morton.

They said he occupied one of three boats that frequent the Nelson Haven area, where his body was found in the rear of a white boat on Thursday morning.

Police earlier said he had been subjected to a serious assault, and he was not the owner of the boat that he was found on.

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Morton's body was removed from the scene last night and a post-mortem is being carried out at Christchurch today.

Police are continuing the scene examination today.

Yesterday, Tasman District crime manager Detective Inspector Paul Borrell briefed media near the site of the incident.

"The death is being treated as suspicious but we are yet to establish if this is a homicide," he said.

"We are examining three boats moored in the area gathering any evidence that will assist this investigation to piece together what has actually occurred and has led to this man's death. It is expected that this will take several days."

The boats are located opposite Neale Park playing fields.

Police say anyone who saw people in the area on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning can call 03 546 3895 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- nzherald.co.nz with Nelson Live