Fear For The 55 – The Maui’s Dolphin – Te Ika a Maui

There are only 55 Maui’s dolphins remaining making it one of the world’s rarest dolphin. They are the world’s smallest dolphin. They are found on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

This critically endangered dolphin is under another threat. The threat of oil and gas exploration. 3000 square kilometres of the North Island’s west coast have been signed off for exploration. The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, home to the Maui’s dolphin, has been included in the block for exploration.

Source - Department of Conservation

Source – Department of Conservation

The New Zealand Conservation Minister Nick Smith insisted that the block that has been given to go ahead for exploration “is nowhere near where the Maui’s [dolphin] live” and “There hasn’t been a single observation of a Maui’s dolphin, and the oil and gas industry hasn’t been involved in a single Maui’s dolphin incident in Taranaki over the past 40 years despite 23 wells being drilled.” Conservation minister Dr Nick Smith and Energy and Resources minister Simon Bridges have both expressed the view that the risk from drilling is very small.

However, the Department of Conservation showed that there had been at least 10 sightings in the areas. Nick Smith quickly admitted that there could have been sightings in the area proposed for exploration.

A poll showed that 80% of New Zealanders thought that oil exploration in the proposed site should not take place.

The International Whaling Commission published a report that said the “current management situation falls short of that required to reverse the Maui’s decline”.

Maui's Dolphin  Source - The World We Share

Maui’s Dolphin
Source – The World We Share

Peter Hardstaff, the head of campaigns for WWF in New Zealand said “the government’s failure to fully protect Maui’s dolphins from net-fishing across their range is already putting them at risk of extinction, and this situation is made worse by opening up their habitat to seismic surveying and a greater chance of oil spills.”

A significant number of the dolphins have died in by-catch. The dolphin often swims right into the nylon net and is unable to free themselves leading to death from suffocation. A set net ban has been put in place in the range of the dolphin. Dolphins are susceptible to marine pollution from industrial waste, storm water and run-off. The Maui’s dolphin is, like so many other marine creatures, subject to death from ingesting plastic bags that look like squid. Boat strikes are also another cause of death.

This is made worse because the Maui’s dolphin has a slow breeding rate so the animals dying cannot be replaced to sustain the small population.

With all these factors already in play, drilling is the last thing this species needs. They could be extinct by 2031. Is this another species extinction that our generation wants to be responsible for?

What Calista W., an eight year old, is doing to help the plight of the Maui’s dolphin. 

“I learned to not be one of those cruel people out there in this world. I may be small but I can make a big difference. Won’t you help me save the Maui’s dolphins?” – Calista.W 

The petition to save the Maui’s dolphin 

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One response to “Fear For The 55 – The Maui’s Dolphin – Te Ika a Maui

  1. Pingback: Advocates for Maui dolphins to march in Wellington… | Peters Place·

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