A new warning has sounded for the world’s smallest dolphin, with a researcher now reporting there are less than 50 Maui’s dolphins left.
Dr Barbara Maas of the NABU International Nature Conservation Foundation and Otago University’s Professor Liz Slooten are presenting new research during discussions with 200 leading cetacean scientists at the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee in San Diego.
Research by Dr Maas reports the numbers of the critically-endangered Maui’s dolphin, endemic to our waters, have sunk to an all-time low of between 43 and 47 individuals, and just 10 to 12 adult female Maui’s dolphins.
She warned that unless the level of fisheries protection was increased significantly, the critically-endangered dolphins could become extinct in just 15 years.
The subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, found in shallow coastal waters up to depths of 100 metres off the North Island’s west coast, have become a symbol for environmentalists challenging gill netting and trawling by commercial fishers, and Government oil and gas exploration block offers in habitat areas.
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