Blog | Save the World’s Smallest and Rarest Dolphin!

Save the World’s Smallest and Rarest Dolphin!

July 2, 2012 by Ric O'Barry, Earth Island Institute

By Dove Joans

(NOTE: Dove Joans and many activists are working to protect the Maui's Dolphin, found in the waters of New Zealand’s North Island.  My friend Dove recently traveled to New Zealand to promote protection for the species.  Here is her report.  – Ric O’Barry)

As of February 2012, only 55 of the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins remain left on the planet, the NZ Maui’s!

Maui’s dolphins are believed to be threatened by entanglement in fishing nets (several closures have been put in place by the government, but many observers feel not enough area has been protected) as well as coastal pollution, marine mining, and tidal power stations in the prime dolphins' habitats.

This is a crucial time across New Zealand, with thousands of concerned world citizens urging the New Zealand government to take emergency measures in protecting the Maui’s and the closely related Hector dolphins from eminent extinction.

Last week, I flew from Byron Bay, Australia to Nelson, New Zealand to be the ‘collective voice’ for the Maui’s dolphins.  I presented over 1,200 visual petitions to the Nelson’s Council – these are photographs of activists with a message to the government asking for help for the dolphins. 

The spotlight question posed to the Council members was, “Do they want to be known as a “savoir of the species”, setting an example across NZ and globally, or do they want to be known as the City that forgot the Maui’s dolphins?”  I reminded the Council that taking measures in protecting the habitats of the crucially endangered dolphins can only highlight New Zealand’s reputation of “100 pure and green”, thus boosting eco-tourism.  I also presented the Council with a recent 2012 article from Auckland Council’s coastal specialist, Bill Trusewich, which states the importance of protecting the wildlife corridor between the South and North Island, as the flow from the Hector's into the Maui's habitat could mean survival of the Maui's genome.

One of the Nelson Council members asked, "What would you like the Council to do?"

I answered, "Two things.”

“Be an advocate for the dolphins by making an immediate recommendation to the New Zealand national government to take emergency measures by declaring the FULL RANGE of the Maui's dolphins a Marine Reserve, or prohibit the use of nylon gillnets and trawling in the dolphins' range along a 100m depth contour.   Secondly, form a committee and work with conservation groups and coastal specialists who know the current situation of the Maui's and Hectors' habitats."


Contact these important members of the New Zealand government, urging them to take action to protect Maui's and Hector's dolphins throughout their range in the North Island from all threats including fishing and extractive industries which may pose them harm:

Prime Minister & also the Minister of Tourism:

Minister of Conservation:,

Primary Productions Minister:


Photo courtesy of Dove Joans.

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