During the month of October the Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling on the public for their support in ‘Finding Maui’ – New Zealand’s own take on Finding Nemo.
“The Maui dolphin is one of New Zealand’s most treasured and critically endangered species. With fewer than 70 of these endangered dolphins left in our waters, it is crucial that those visiting and living on our coasts keep an eye out for the Maui Dolphin,” Kuriger said.
Maui dolphin number between 48 – 69 in New Zealand’s waters. They are predominantly found on the West Coast of the North Island, anywhere from Kaipara Harbour in Northland, down to Oakura Beach in Taranaki. The Maui dolphin is among the smallest of the world’s 32 dolphin species, and has distinctive grey, white, and black markings. They are also distinguishable by their rounded fin (similar to a Mickey Mouse ear).
The Maui dolphins have been sighted just 55 times the 2014/2015 summer, and DOC is looking for an increase in sightings this year.
The Maui Dolphin Threat Management Plan developed by DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries has been instrumental in creating better protection measures for Maui, as well as raised the level of awareness. The plan has seen the ban on set netting expanded by over 2000 square kilometres around the Taranaki coast.
“Like the Kiwi, the Maui dolphin is an important part of New Zealand’s natural heritage, so we need to take care of them. It is important we band together as a community to support the better protection of Maui dolphin, so they are here for future generations. I urge all New Zealanders to keep an eye out for the Maui dolphin when visiting the West Coast this year, and call 0800 DOC HOT if spotted,” Kuriger said.