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Hector’s dolphins are a species of dolphin that is native to New Zealand. They are the smallest dolphin species in the world and have a rounded black dorsal fin, instead of a sickle-shaped one. Māui dolphins are a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins that have larger skulls and a longer, wider rostrum (snout.) There are only around 15,000 Hector’s dolphins and 55 Māui dolphins left today. Thus, the former is endangered and the latter, critically endangered. Unfortunately, not enough is being done to conserve their population, which can’t handle many deaths due to its small size.

One of the biggest concerns that conservationists have for these iconic dolphins is gillnets, nets that float vertically through the water to catch large quantities of fish. Unfortunately, these nets catch much more than fish. Bycatch, the unintended victims of these nets, includes seabirds and other marine life. In 2006, around “As many as 100,000 cetaceans – mainly dolphins – were caught in commercial gill nets as by-catch.” The 2020 numbers are closer to 80,000, but the amount has only decreased due to the decimated population, rather than a decrease in harmful commercial fishing practices.

A few years ago, New Zealand opened up the Māui dolphin sanctuary to mining exploration, which was critiqued by the Department of Conservation for the devastating effects it could have on the marine life in the area, especially considering that the Māui dolphins are on the brink of extinction. New Zealand was also one of two countries to reject the IUCN World Conservation Congress‘ motion to stop the extinction of rare dolphins and porpoises. Sign this petition to tell New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins before it’s too late!

To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:

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