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Death of female Māui’s dolphin a tragic blow

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Forest & Bird is devastated to hear of the death of a suspected female Māui’s dolphin.

“Any Māui’s dolphin death is a considerable blow. The population so small that every individual matters,” says Forest & Bird’s marine advocate Anton van Helden.

The population currently stands at 63 animals over the age of one.

“We know that a population of this size can only sustain one death every seven years, to have any chance of recovery. There have now been two reported Māui’s deaths in seven years.”

“That this dolphin is a female is tragic, as it reduces future breeding potential for this critically endangered sub-species."

“Raglan is a hotspot for Māui’s dolphins – it’s right in their range. This animal is highly likely to be a Māui’s dolphin."

“We need to reduce human threats as close to zero as possible, for this sub-species to have any real chance of survival, and to ultimately recover."

Mr van Helden says less than 30 percent of Māui’s range is protected from set nets, and only eight percent is protected from both set nets and trawling – the two biggest known human threats to the dolphins.

The West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary for Māui’s dolphins does not prohibit seismic surveys and exploration for mining – activities that expose these animals to further risks.

“Forest & Bird is calling for threats to Māui’s dolphins to be fully investigated, and for the government to do everything in its powers to protect these animals before recovery becomes impossible," says Mr van Helden.

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