55

Maui Dolphin

Australia

55

Cephalorhynchus hectori maui

Endangered

Over 95% of unnatural Maui's deaths are caused by entanglement and drowning in gill-net or trawl fishing. Other causes - all human-related are:

  • fishing
  • collision with boats
  • mining
  • construction and coastal development
  • pollution
  • marine tourism
  • marine farming
  • climate change

Maui’s Dolphin, which also goes by its Maori name Popoto, are classified as a subspecies of the Hector’s Dolphin and can only be found in New Zealand’s North Island. Based on recent population estimates, there are only 55-63 individuals left in the wild.

Harmful fishing methods such as gill netting and trawling – characterised by its net’s fine filaments – around the harbours and near shorelines put these dolphins at risk of getting caught and drowned. These large incidents of fishery by-catch deaths have pushed the world’s smallest and rarest marine mammal to the brink of extinction.

Measuring up to 1.5 meters long, Maui’s Dolphins are playful, social creatures which prefer staying in shallow waters to avoid large predators. Its tri-coloured markings of black, white, and grey as well as its rounded dorsal fins resembling Mickey Mouse ears are the most distinct features of New Zealand’s uniquely endemic cetaceans.