Maui dolphins are the smallest wild dolphins in the world, with one of the tiniest populations. A new study found they are down to just about 55 adults, from 111 several years ago. However, it has been noted the real number may be less than 55, because some time has elapsed since the most recent study was conducted and the rate of decline is about three percent per year.
It was also explained there could be only 20 adult breeding females left, so protecting them all would be of the utmost importance, if there is a real desire to help them rebound. Breeding age females have just one calf each two to four years. Females grow to about 1.7 meters and the males are slightly smaller. Maui dolphins only live in the waters of west coast North Island, New Zealand.
The main threat to these critically endangered animals has been the fishing industry. They are vulnerable to fishing nets because their preferred habitat is shallow water less than 100 meters deep.
“NABU International urges the Primary Industries Minister David Carter to show the leadership that is required to save this species. He can do so by invoking provisions under Section 16 of the Fisheries Act and impose immediate emergency measures to prohibit the use of gillnets and trawling in the dolphins’ range along a 100m depth contour. Better still, he could support the Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson in declaring the full range of Maui’s dolphins a Marine Reserve.” (Source: Voxy)
The government has been called upon to expand the areas of fishing net bans to protect the tiny population remaining in the wild. Why the government has taken so long to respond might be related to the influence of the fishing industry and the voracious mindset of modern business, which typically has no place for valuing life other than as something to exchange for money.
It is almost as if the presence of government conservation agencies causes the public to believe something constructive is being done to protect wild animals, so they don’t become involved, but the truth is generally it is small groups who start non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that do some of the best conservation work, without government support.
The human population is over seven billion and growing – the largest it has ever been. This fact could play out as an enormous tragedy for many of the world’s other species. Will the New Zealand dolphin species be driven into extinction by human activities?
Image Credit: JShook
Note: the dolphin shown above is a Hector’s dolphin, the parent species to the Maui’s dolphin.