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New Finding Offers Hope for Critically Endangered Dolphin

New Finding Offers Hope for Critically Endangered Dolphin


Written by David DeFranza

According to recent surveys, there are only 55 adult and juvenile Maui’s dolphins left in the wild. Though they are protected, conservationists fear that the population of the critically endangered species is not large enough to support sustainable breeding. The problem is that with so few individuals, genetic diversity can suffer, leading to a weakened species more susceptible to birth defects and disease.

Another concern, explained Dr. Rochelle Constantine from the University of Auckland, is that “with such a dangerously low number of breeding females has been that the fertility of the population may be compromised, but our work shows that the number of pregnant females is within the expected range, which is encouraging.”

This good news was bolstered by another discovery: DNA analysis has revealed that two migrant Hector’s dolphins—a typically separate sub-species—have integrated and bred with Maui’s dolphins. This event—the first ever documented—suggests that the species has taken advantage of an opportunity to increase the diversity of its gene pool.

And analyzing tissues samples has provided insight into more than breeding habits; the next step for researchers is to use the samples to establish what times of fish the dolphins regularly feed on. With this feeding data, conservationists will be better able to protect prey populations for this troubled species.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


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Photo from Bodhi Surf School via flickr

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10:06PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Happy news

6:30PM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

I thought Hectors dolphins were also in trouble from gill netting ??

8:32AM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

11:20AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

I hope this mammal can be saved before it's too late................

6:45PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Great :)

5:48AM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

If we don't do something to help them now, soon, they will be gone forever!

2:07AM PDT on Mar 17, 2012

Thanks for the article.

7:57PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

I believe that if animals are given a chance they can make the right decisions to maintain their species.

4:24PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

great news....we are losing to many animals and other species.

12:44PM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Sure hope this helps to boost the population of the Maui dolphins.
Nature looks after itself!

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