Maui's dolphins photo courtesy of Auckland University

The northwest coast of New Zealand is home to a special native marine mammal. The Maui’s dolphin is the smallest of its kind in the world. Sadly, after years of neglect, only 55 remain. It’s time for our generation to do something about it, before this iconic species is lost forever. By TEARAWAY Maverick JEROME SEARS.

The Maui’s dolphin is our very own native dolphin, existing only around the west coast of the North Island. Back in 2004 there were an estimated 100 Maui’s dolphins left, however in 2014 that number has decreased by nearly half.

The situation at the moment is so bad that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has labeled the dolphins a critically endangered animal, which is really as bad as it gets. In less than five years, the Maui’s dolphin could be extinct. It’s time to take urgent action before this rare, majestic animal is lost forever.

The main cause of their decline in population is due to our fishing practices. Scientists believe that more than 95 per cent of unnatural Maui’s deaths are caused by trawl fishing; the dolphins become entangled in the nets and eventually drown.
 
Conservationists say there really should be no reason why the species can’t recover – after all, fishing is something that can be controlled.

“We can save the Maui’s if the government extends the ban on net fishing to cover the Maui’s entire habitat,” explains WWF-New Zealand Head of Campaigns Peter Hardstaff. organisation also wants to see that the Maui’s are protected from other risky mining activities and seismic surveying for oil exploration.

By getting the government to agree to support more dolphin-friendly methods of fishing, protecting the Maui’s wherever they swim, we can save our precious dolphin. As Peter says, we need to work together as a nation to save the last 55. “Fishing communities shouldn’t bear the cost alone”.

WWF have set up an online petition to help spark awareness of the situation. The campaign calls on all of our political leaders to make a commitment this year to save the endangered dolphins. The overall aim is to present a petition with at least 55,000 signatures to political leaders before the general election in September, to let them know New Zealanders think it’s time to take action.

Ocean Girl Jamie on the Campaign

 

Singer/songwriter and campaign ambassador Jamie McDell performs at the launch of Last 55

After growing up in a family that has never strayed too far from the ocean, singer-songwriter Jamie McDell is getting behind the cause.

“The ocean is something that’s given me a lot throughout my life. I feel like I have a responsibility to give back to it,” says Jamie. “I want people to understand what’s threatening it, and that there are ways to make a difference through the decisions we make”.

Unfortunately, the reality is that our next generation are going to be the ones who have to deal with the consequences of our actions. “We can see the decrease in our marine life happening right in front of us, and it’s important for our younger generation to believe that it is possible to develop alongside our environment, not work against it,” says Jamie.

In the end there is still hope for the survival of the Maui’s, but we must take action now. “We want to see the Maui’s saved from extinction so that future generations of New Zealanders will get to swim, surf and play with these awesome dolphins,” says Peter.

Our country is well known for being a place where our wildlife is just as unique as our stunning landscape. It’s the final countdown for our Maui’s. Don’t let them be the last 55.

Join the movement and jump on board, by signing the online petition now.

Meet the Maui's

Maui's dolphins photo courtesy of Auckland University


-    Maui's dolphins only grow between 1.2 and 1.6 metres. That's pretty much small enough to fit into a bathtub
-    The Maui’s are an inshore costal species with a limited home range
-    They have a black rounded dorsal fin, similar to a Mickey Mouse ear
-    The dolphins are very slow breeders, producing only one calf every two to four years.

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