Maui's Dolphins playing in the ocean


By nzmacminer | Wildlife SOS | 12 Jun 2022

Wildlife SOS


New Zealand's Maui's dolphin is the smallest and rarest dolphin in the world. It is a subspecies of the Hectors dolphin and there are thought to be only between 57 and 75 over the age of 1. Maui's dolphin can only live up to 20 years and the maximum growth for their population is 2% per year.  

Maui's dolphin live along the west coast of New Zealand, between Maunganui Bluff and Whanganui although they are mostly seen between Manukau Harbour and Port Waikato.
PictureThe range of Maui's dolphin. Green indicates a high amount of dolphins in the area and red indicates a lower amount.

Maui's dolphins are the only dolphins (apart from Hectors dolphin) to have a round dorsal fin. They have distinctive grey black and white markings and a short snout. Females grow up to 1.7 m long and can weigh up to 50 kg whereas males are slightly smaller and lighter.

PictureThe difference between a Maui's or Hector dolphins dorsal fin and a common dolphins dorsal fin

Maui's dolphin eat a variety of fish, both bottom-dwelling and free swimming.

Maui's dolphin is Nationally Critical but still, humans are the main threat them. One of the biggest issues is set net fishing, as Maui's dolphin will get tangled in nets. Also nets can get lost and drift out to ocean where dolphins might get caught.
Another big threat for Maui's dolphins pollution. This comes in the forms of Organochlorines (found in pesticides and some building materials), Metals (like mercury, lead and cadmium), Oil (from oil spills), Plastic debris and Pathogens ( a virus of micro-organism that can cause disease).
Another problem is interaction with boats/people. Maui's dolphins could get caught in/cut by the propeller of a boat and encounters with people could disturb the dolphins and have long term effects on their breeding and feeding.

How can we help?
There are lots of ways to help. If you are in the area where sightings of Maui's dolphins have been recorded, respect the restriction on nets. Also dispose of all rubbish responsibly, e.g. don't throw your rubbish on the ground or in the sea, put it in a bin and recycle where you can. If you are in the North Island and you see a Maui's dolphin then report it to the Department of Conservation emergencies hotline and if you see a sick, injured or dead Maui's dolphin then you will also need to contact the Department of Conservation.

The Department of Conservation:
Maui's dolphin, going, going, gone?: ​
​Animal Diversity Web:​

This information is taken from my daughters website with her permission. I am helping her spread the word about our planets endangered animals. Happy reading.

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Wildlife SOS
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A look at many endangered animals of the world, and how we can start to help them. This is taken from a website created by my daughter.

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