Habitat: New Zealand
Status: Critically Endangered
These photos depict the world’s rarest and smallest known species of dolphin: Maui’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) which is a sub-species of Hector’s Dolphin. They are only found off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island so you’d think that New Zealand would be doing all they could to protect this dwindling species. After all, there are only 55 adults remaining in the wild as of 2012 (down from 100 in a 2004 survey).
Well, shockingly, New Zealand is majorly slacking on saving the only endemic cetacean in its waters. New Zealand was the ONLY country to vote against further protection for the dolphin at the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in Korea (the world’s largest conservation summit). Some 576 members, including governments and NGOs, voted for the motion. New Zealand was the only country to vote against. Absolutely disgusting.
In a Stuff.co.nz article on the shocking turn of events, WWF’s marine programme manager Rebecca Bird said, “”The New Zealand government has acted shamefully and can no longer claim to be leaders in conservation. If we fail to act now, it will not be long before Maui’s [dolphins] disappear from our waters forever.”
Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said the Government was putting the interests of a handful of fishers ahead of the safety of threatened dolphins.
The small dolphins, at only 5.5 ft in length and 110 lbs, are so threatened because they get caught in fishing nets and drown. It takes a toll on the population each time one dies this way, as females can only begin to breed once they’ve hit sexual maturity at 7-9 years old. Then it’s only possible for them produce a single calf every 2-4 years.
Just recently on June 14, an article in the New Zealand Herald , wrote that “a long-awaited threat management plan for Maui’s dolphins is to be announced next month [although] one MP has questioned whether the Government is going far enough to protect the critically endangered species.”
“As Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Green MP Gareth Hughes faced off yesterday in Parliament, new research presented to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) scientific committee claimed more than 80 per cent of the dolphin’s habitat lay exposed to gill netting and trawling fishing methods.
Experts believe the dolphin will disappear by 2030 unless urgent action is taken but there is disagreement over the best way to save them.
Mr Hughes said the plan was “hugely overdue”, and the Government should listen to international scientists. “The Government isn’t giving this species a chance at survival – and I believe they are acting as an accessory to the dolphins’ extinction.”
SO, it seems as if New Zealand is still putting up quite a fight to PROTECT a species that needs our help! To try and do something I’ve found this petition started by the WWF to plead with New Zealand’s Prime Minister to do SOMETHING! Please take a moment and sign it here.
Come on world! We have to save this tiny dolphin before it’s too late!!