Maui Dolphin Near Extinction! – ACTION Alert!


Bombarded as we are by the tragedies of life and living, animal lovers hear the term “endangered” a lot.  But we don’t hear of extinction.  The Passenger Pigeon is the last species to go extinct while we watched, right before our very eyes.  From blackening the sky to nearly none happened in just 30 years, around the turn of the century.  Because there were billions just 5o years earlier, no one thought it truly possible for a species to disappear until it was much too late to bring them back.  Such is very close to the case now with the Maui’s Dolphins.

Dead Maui & Hector's dolphins found drowned at the shoreline, killed by illegal nets

The NZ Fishing Industry refuses to recognize that they’re even endangered!

In 2007, the WWF survey estimated that there were 110 of these friendly shore-dwelling dolphins left, all at the coast of New Zealand.  Now in 2012, there are less than 80… and three have been killed in as many weeks, drowned after becoming caught in illegal recreational fishing nets.  Called Set or Gill nets, they have been claiming the lives of Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins for years.  The government of New Zealand has laws against the use of such nets, but the laws are nearly never enforced.

If this trend continues, there will not be enough Maui’s dolphins left for a sustainable genetic gene pool by this time next year.  The Maui’s dolphin is going extinct, literally right before our very eyes!  Long before the President of the United States finishes his next term, there will be no Maui dolphins left in the world, unless we take strong measures immediately.   But the prime minister of New Zealand, uncharacteristically preferring the cash influences of the Fisheries, acts as though these horrifying truths don’t even exist!

Though Maui’s dolphins continue to be found dead on the shores of the harbor, the Fisheries industry still demands that the politicians parrot their claim that Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins do not go into the harbor!

Gareth Hughes, Activist Politician, at an Oil Spill Protection Plan rally

MP Gareth Hughes, Activist Politician

One voice stands up loudly in their defense, one activist voice in the wilderness of politicians.  Young MP Gareth Hughes, of New Zealand’s Green Party, is loudly outspoken regarding environmental issues.  While the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials claim that the two most recent deaths must be the result of illegal fishing, Mr. Hughes calls them out, noting that the protected areas are insufficient, considering the sheer number of sightings of Hector’s dolphins outside of the Set Net ban area; “Hector’s dolphins have been seen by Ministry of Fisheries observers outside the set net ban area off the coast of the South Island, and independent academic research backs up these observations,” said Mr Hughes. He calls upon the New Zealand government to

  • Act immediately to extend the set net ban further offshore to cover the areas in which Hector’s dolphins are known to swim.
  • Monitor the set net bans more thoroughly. (Historically, monitoring has been poor.)
  • Enforce the ban, including increasing the aerial monitoring of the set net ban area
  • Increase the amount of Ministry of Fisheries observers on commercial fishing boats outside the set net ban.

“How many endangered dolphins need to die before the Government strengthens protection for them?” asks Mr Hughes.

Hector's & Maui Dolphin Distribution vs Protection Map Sep 2011

The red is where they occur. The thin green lines are the only areas they are protected. The remaining Maui dolphins are found on the west side of the North Island.

What can be done to help?  Our idea is to make some noise — a LOT of it!  There’s no such thing as too much noise, when we’re talking about a species going extinct right before our very eyes.  Many of the deaths have been caused by RECREATIONAL fishing and boating!

Three people are responsible for the care of these precious and very endangered dolphins:

  • Right Honorable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand ( email )
  • Honorable David Carter, Minister of Primary Industries, NZ ( email
  • Honorable Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation, NZ ( email

All three of them have categorically ignored the pleas of activists, even when they are armed with valid scientific data and facts.  Please, write them emails.  Here’s an Example Letter:

Esteemed and Honorable (or Right Honorable, for Mr. Key) ______,

New Zealand has been known the world over for breathtaking beauty, ecological responsibility, and a sense of unity amongst all of her people.  That’s why it was so very shocking to me to discover that the plight of the Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins have been largely ignored.  At present, the beautiful Maui’s dolphin, which should be a national treasure for New Zealand, has less than 80 members left alive.  At the rate that they are being killed by recreational boaters and fishermen and illegal nets, the Maui dolphins may not survive your term, and the Hector’s fate is similarly grim.

Extinction is forever!  If we hesitate now, we cannot take that back or make it up, which is why it is so very important to err on the side of caution.  PLEASE, I urge you, implore you, step up the protections for these most rare, friendly and sensitive beings.  The harbor areas of the west side of the North Island must be protected immediately, and all areas expanded to reflect their actual range!

As a Kiwi, you know better than most that the fate of the world and that of the oceans are intrinsically linked.  This philosophy has done much to promote your multi-billion dollar tourist trade. The whole world is watching now.  Do whatever it takes to protect them.  Please, do not let indifference cause the Maui’s or Hector’s dolphins go extinct.  Don’t let your legacy, and the reputation of New Zealand, be stained by that they died on your watch.


<City, State, Country>

Then please add your name and voice to this petition:

The above video shows a diver freeing a Hector’s Dolphin which was caught in a gil net.
Below is a photo of a couple that weren’t so lucky.

Two Maui dolphins, drowned after being caught up in nylon nets last week.

16 replies
  1. Kathy L. Carrillo says:

    Taking action once the species has been eliminated from our ecosystem is pointless. You have a job to do, DO IT!!!
    DO IT!
    Sitting back in your nice comfortable office while you are aware of the scientific data that has been provided while doing NOTHING! makes you a thief! You are taking money for doing a job you are not performing!
    WAKE UP!!!



  2. Michelle Oxenham says:

    Gil nets are abhorent enough, but their brutal effect on by-catch is intollerable. As decent, civilised, EVOLVING human beings, can we please relegate them to history? I cannot imagine the terror and agony experienced by those innocents caught in these nets.

    Michelle Oxenham

  3. Jodie Torney says:

    What makes the human race more important? We are in living on the planet earth together and we need to show respect to our beautiful animals! Ignorance of what is happening to these beautiful dolphins is horrible.. What if you were sick and people gave up on you how would you feel? Please help these special dolphins to remain is that to much to ask?

  4. mark walker says:

    This is another example of an avoidable tragedy and violation to marine life. A probable species extinct for what? Fish? Where are your faculties? Get busy immediately and save this dolphin like you are obligated to do! This lax attitude is 100% unacceptable! For fish …unbelievable!!

    ED: Not necessarily even that much, Mark. Some of them have been killed by careless recreational boaters, because the government refuses to expand their protection zones. 🙁

  5. karen lyons kalmenson says:

    does manunkind think it okay
    for all precious species
    to go away
    and when all are gone
    and it is his time
    will he then have regrets
    and wish he stopped on
    that dime

  6. jonisadler says:

    You are responsible for making sure these laws are upheld. Otherwise a species becomes extinct. on your watch when something can be done about it. Don’t let future generations know you as the ones that could have done something but didn’t.

  7. chelsea says:

    unfortunately, with fewer than 80 of these doplphins left this species may already be doomed to non-existence. people really need to pull their heads outta their rears, and stop acting so destructively… we are quickly pushing a collapse of the delicate ecosystem we call planet earth. If it collapses, we’ll go too…tread lightly mankind … your fate hangs in the balance due to your action (or lack thereof ) too.

    ED: It’s actually worse than that, Chelese. Some counts put the total females at 25. But miracles can and do happen. We must not stop trying, protecting them, so that they have a chance to recover. Even if they don’t survive as a species, we will have learned much by doing so, scientifically, politically, and personally.

    It warms my heart and encourages me to see your last comment. That is our overall message here at PTO, that our fate is inextricably linked to that of the ocean and her inhabitants. Thank you for your heartfelt comments. — JT

  8. Lisa Wyatt says:

    Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Stop committing crimes against nature. You have an obligation to uphold to the animals and fish both. Stop the damage you inflict mindlessly!

  9. Robert Hughes says:

    Why is it that people can just close their eyes to the ocean and it’s marine life? Is it because it is not “directly” visible, is it because it is easier than dealing with the problems or is it because you are just ignorant and heartless? I believe that because some people just choose to close their eyes and pretend that nothing is happening, it makes ALL of us as a species look ignorant and Godless! If you choose to just sit on your hands, while a race of living, caring, feeling creatures is exterminated- YOU ARE LAZY, IGNORANT FOOLS!! Get off your ignorant ASSES and be a part of the change that we as a species OWE to the creatures of this planet that we are exterminating!!!!!! Greed and capital gain has erased compassion over time, DO SOMETHING NOW and PROTECT OUR OCEANS. If we loose our oceans, we as a species are going to be just a memory. Do you have children? Do you have feelings? DO YOU HAVE A CLUE? DO SOMETHING NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Alice Hunter says:


    If any of you want to take more action to help dolphins, go to Youtube and type in ‘ the cove part 1’
    and watch the whole thing, then ‘the cove part 2’, and so on, till you get to the last one, watch the credits too, because they tell you their website, where you can sign up for the petition.

    • Tui Allen says:

      Alice, this makes me feel ashamed to be a New Zealander but some of us (too few) are doing everything we can to help. I gave up work and all my income and spent three years writing a story about dolphins designed to change attitudes to these animals. I gave nearly all the earning from the book to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
      The story is becoming much-beloved around the world though so it was worth it even if it cost me so much financially to do it. It’s the story of how one dolphin was inspired by love to an intellectual achievement that changed the universe and is called “Ripple – A Dolphin Love Story.”
      It has a powerful message about the possible consequences to humanity of dolphin extinction.
      It’s here:


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