World’s Smallest Dolphin Species Faces Extinction

Written by on February 17, 2013 in Marine Life, Whales & Dolphins
Maui's dolphin.

Maui’s dolphin. Photo credit: Steve Dawson, NOAA.

Scientists and conservationists are urging New Zealand government and citizens to take immediate action to protect Maui’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui).

Maui’s dolphins, the world’s smallest dolphin subspecies, are critically endangered, with only an estimated 55 individuals remaining. They are only found off North Island’s west coast and recent reports state that they could become extinct by 2030.

The Society for Marine Mammalogy¬†recently wrote a letter to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key concerning Maui’s dolphins. In the letter, they state that gillnetting and trawling still occur in areas where the dolphins are known to live, and an estimated five dolphins a year are killed by fishing gear. Entanglement in fishing gear is responsible for a 9 percent decline in population annually.

“Scientific advice often involves a degree of uncertainty,” the letter states, “but in a situation such as this one involving a critically endangered subspecies, delay to resolve uncertainty could have dire, irrevocable results.”

To learn more, watch the following video:
It’s a little old (2007) but the information is still good. Unfortunately, the only thing that has really changed is the number of individual dolphins left…

Check out some of these links:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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