COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION

Hector’s & Maui’s Dolphins – Countdown to Extinction

Published on Apr 19, 2012 by NABUInternational

Hector’s dolphins and their close relative the Maui’s dolphin live only in New Zealand and are both the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on earth.

Entanglement in gill and trawl nets has devastated the species to near extinction and is killing them faster than they can breed. Since the introduction of nylon filament nets in the 1970s, Hector’s dolphin numbers have dropped from 29,000 to less than 7,000. The situation for Maui’s dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, is even worse. More than 90% are already lost. With fewer than 80 survivors and less than 20 breeding females, Maui’s dolphins are facing imminent extinction.

Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins breed very slowly. Even under ideal circumstances a population of 100 individuals can only grow by two animals a year at the most.
Saving this species is a race against time that can only be won if fishing-related mortality is prevented by excluding gill and trawl nets from the animals habitat. New protection measures introduced in 2008 were a significant step in the right direction, but fall short of what is needed to facilitate population recovery and avoid extinction.

Hector’s dolphins continue to decline because protection measures are inadequate. Unless things change, the species will become extinct. Yet, in the absence of fisheries bycatch, Hector’s dolphins could recover to at least half of their original population size within a few decades. But for over 25 years Hector’s dolphin protection has been marred by unsuccessful half measures, lack of political will, delays, the unwillingness to translate the best available scientific knowledge into effective management decisions, and an unhealthy reliance on information from New Zealand’s fishing industry.

You can help by signing our petition, which sends a letter to the NZ government, urging them to do what needs to be done to turn the dolphins’ fate around:
https://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-extinction-of-hectors-mauis-dolphins

To find out more please visit: www.hectorsdolphins.com

Uploaded by on Aug 1, 2010

Uploaded by on Aug 1, 2010

About the size of a human child Hector’s Dolphins are among the smallest dolphin species in the world. Found only in the coastal waters of New Zealand, where there is a very active fishing industry, they are also among the most endangered.

“At the moment there are about 27 percent of the numbers there were in the 1970s,” said Liz Slooten a marine biologist at the University of Otago. “Many Dolphins you’d expect there to be tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of individuals. But Hector’s Dolphins? There are just over 7,000 individuals.”

Hector’s Dolphins and a subspecies called Maui’s Dolphins are frequently killed when they are inadvertently trapped in the fine mesh of gill nets. Despite resistance from the fishing industry researches aim to create protection zones to prevent the extinction of this threatened species.

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