There’s nothing like visiting your favourite beach and spotting one of New Zealand’s very own treasured marine species. It’s always special to see our native sea creatures enjoying their habitat – and a poignant reminder of what we stand to lose if we don’t urgently protect our oceans.
With that in mind, here are three of Aotearoa’s endangered marine species that are under threat – and how you can help protect them.
Māui and Hector’s dolphins
Māui dolphins are a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins – and they both need our help. But in the most pressing need of assistance is our Māui dolphin, which has been pushed to the brink of survival with only around 60 adult dolphins left.
Tiny and playful animals, Māui used to be found frolicking along most of the west coast of the North Island. Historically, their habitat stretched even further afield. Now, if you are lucky, you might spot one between Maunganui Bluff and Whanganui.
These small dolphins face numerous avoidable threats and the largest of these is fishing. With their habitat not properly protected, these dolphins can become entangled in nets and drown.
Plastic pollution, boat strikes, and the effects of seabed exploration are other human-caused issues threatening the last of our Māui.
Simple measures that could be taken to protect these dolphins have been delayed time and time again by the government. But you can make a difference in this fight! If you haven’t already, please check out how you can take action to demand more protection for Māui dolphins. With so few of these animals left, we must do everything in our power to save them.
You can also watch this inspiring webinar from Liz Slooten – Māui and Hector’s dolphin expert.