19 October 2008

Hector's Dolphins Still Unprotected

Hector's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), Endangered

A new study by researchers at New Zealand's Otago University has added to the mountain of evidence that Hector's Dolphins are being killed at a rate that will lead to their extinction . . . unless something changes. These dolphins, with their uniquely rounded dorsal fins, are declining due to commercial and recreational fishing using gill nets and other methods that entangle them as bycatch.

Hector's Dolphins have the most limited range of any cetacean, except the Vaquita. Living only around the coast of New Zealand's two islands, they are divided into two subspecies. The South Island Hector's Dolphins have been reduced to less than 7500 individuals, while the Critically Endangered North Island subspecies, also known as Maui's Dolphins, have been reduced to a mere 110 individuals.

The New Zealand government has restricted fishing in parts of the Dolphin's range, but complete protection has not been realized, partially because of resistance from the fishing industry.

If you want to help, you can petition the New Zealand Government to enact full protection, adopt a Hector's Dolphin through WWF New Zealand, or join a Facebook Cause dedicated to the Hector's and Maui's Dolphins.

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