Experts and volunteers are searching for a dolphin calf following the death of its mother at Whangarei Heads after it became stranded.
Northland Orca expert Ingrid Visser said McLeods Bay residents found the bottlenose dolphin at about 7.45am on Saturday in very shallow water.
"Unfortunately, the dolphin died shortly after it was found," Ms Visser said.
It was not clear why the dolphin had stranded as it was not common for bottlenose to strand and there were no visible signs of trauma, she said. The dolphin was fully-grown and about 3m long.
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The calf was spotted in the bay for most of the morning but was last seen at about 1.30pm.
"Most of the time it was only about 50 to 100 metres away from the dead female," Ms Visser said. "It's definitely still nursing because the mother was still lactating."
If the calf was spotted it was important that members of the public did not push it back out to sea as it needed a medical examination.
"We need to know where it is because we want to monitor it so we know it's healthy," Ms Visser said.
The deceased dolphin was moved on Saturday afternoon following consultation with local iwi and the Department of Conservation. An autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause of death.
If members of the public spot the calf and it is free-swimming it was recommended not to approach but alert the experts. If it was found stranded it should be gently held in shallow water until they arrive.
-If you spot the calf immediately contact Whale-Rescue on 0800 SAVE WHALE (0800 7283 94), Project Jonah on 0800 4 WHALE (0800 494 253) or the Department of Conservation Hotline on 0800 Doc Hot (0800 362 468).