Too late to save Maui’s dolphin, experts says

Marine experts say it is too late to stop the Maui’s dolphin becoming extinct and New Zealand sea lions will be next unless changes are made.

Despite mandatory monitoring and recent restrictions on fishing zones, the Maui’s dolphins days are numbered.

"[The] stand out amongst them is bycatch in the southern squid fisheries." (…)"It’s not the fishermen, it’s the Government. The Government is paid to keep the species such as the Maui dolphin safe, and they’re not doing it," Roger Payne said.

New devices within nets have heavily reduced the number sea lions accidentally caught in fishing nets, but their numbers are still falling.The only way to ensure marine mammals are safe is to change fishing methods.


Hector’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus Hectori) - 

About the size of a large dog, the Hector’s Dolphin is one of the smallest cetaceans, and is the only one endemic to New Zeland. 

They prefer shallower waters near the coast, but depending on the season and weather conditions can move to about 25 miles off coast.  They feed on almost anything that is about the size they can catch. Hector’s Dolphins are the only dolphin with a rounded dorsal fin.  The benefits of this is uncertain.  

In less than 50 years, the population of Hector’s Dolphins has decreased by about 85%, leaving less than 7000 in the wild today.  Their main threat is over fishing and destruction of their habitat. 

Maui_09 | ©Greenpeace New Zealand 

One of the 55 original artworks by Sheyne Tuffery, representing the estimated number of adult Maui’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) left alive. They were presented to 55 key Members of Parliament to highlight that the future of Maui’s dolphin, verging on extinction, is in their hands.

Cephalorhynchus hectori maui is regarded as Critically Endangered subspecies on the IUCN Red List [1]. The abundance of Maui’s dolphins of over 1 year of age for 2010-11 was estimated to be 55 [2].