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Source: Massey University

Associate Professor Karen Stockin from the School of Natural and Computational Sciences, shows the children a common dolphin up close.

The Auckland campus Early Learning Centre was treated to a rare marine biology experience recently when staff and children were invited to view seven common dolphins.

The dolphins, recovered after a mass stranding in Taupo Bay, Northland, were sent to Massey by the Department of Conservation for post-mortem examination.

Associate Professor Karen Stockin, whose daughter attends the centre, said it was a great opportunity to show the children what scientists do. “Most children of this age are fascinated by wildlife and especially it seems by dolphins,” Dr Stockin said. “When we knew these recently stranded dolphins were coming in for examination, we asked the daycare staff and students who would be interested in viewing the animals prior to examination and their excited response was overwhelming.

“It is great that our Early Learning Centre is able to get involved in the science we do on campus. Our research focuses on mass stranded marine mammals, usually pilot whales though occasionally common dolphins.”

Lorna Duley (left) and Steph Salvador from Massey University’s Early Learning Centre examine the common dolphins with fascinated children.

Unique learning opportunity

Centre head teacher Lorna Duley said it was a unique learning opportunity and experience for the children who were fascinated to see such amazing marine animals close up. “It followed on beautifully from discussions that had taken place in our centre when we found a little bird in our garden that had died and we had wondered about why. 

“From this visit we were able to see that Karen’s job is to seek answers to these sort of questions so we can keep our environment clean, safe and healthy for all the animals.”

Dr Stockin, who is a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Fellow, says the necropsy results will help form part of a study she is leading.

MIL OSI New Zealand News