Save Maui's Dolphins from Extinction
  • Petitioning New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

This petition will be delivered to:

New Zealand Parliament
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key

Save Maui's Dolphins from Extinction

    1. Petition by


The world’s smallest and rarest dolphins endemic to New Zealand are facing ‘imminent’ extinction with just 55 individuals left (as little as 20 breeding females). Maui's dolphin is now the rarest in the world. They are a subspecies of Hector’s dolphin which is also endangered. There were around 1,000 in the 1970s before commercial fishing took off in the area. Marine biologist Dr Rochelle Constantine, who worked on the study, told the New Zealand Daily Herald: ‘We are staring down the barrel of extinction of this sub-species.’ A study in 2012, carried out by University of Auckland, Oregon State University and the New Zealand Department of Conservation - using DNA samples - found the number of dolphins aged more than a year had plummeted from 111 when the last survey was carried out in 2004. The Maui’s dolphins – which are classified as critically endangered: have seen their numbers halve in the last seven years alone, as dozens have been caught in fishing nets.

Although part of the coast is protected from fishing, along most of it, trawling and vast fixed nets held in place by anchors have been blamed for killing the striking animals. Maui’s have a lifespan of around 20 years but only reach sexual maturity after around seven, and breed infrequently – around one calf every three years.

Dr Barbara Maas, a Cambridge University-trained zoologist who was not involved in the research, but has organised a petition to save the Maui’s that gathered 10,000 signatures, told the Mail: ‘To have just 55 of these wonderful creatures left is beyond even our worst estimates: “Their extinction is really imminent now, within a few years. New Zealand is a civilised country, which markets itself as an unspoilt paradise. They must act before it is too late.” ~ Dr Barbara Maas (
It came just a month after a coalition of scientists and animal welfare groups came up with a dolphin ‘bill of rights’ they hoped would be enshrined in law. They believe the animals are so intelligent they should be thought of as ‘non-human persons’, allowing whalers to be classed as murderers, they told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Vancouver.

Experts say it is still possible to save Maui’s by setting up a sanctuary and banning nets over a larger area of the coastline. The government has said it recognises the problem and will bring forward proposals at the end of May 2013.

However charities fear more delays could be devastating for the much-loved creatures. Their plight recalls that of the Baiji dolphin in China, which was once numerous and known as the ‘goddess’ of the Yangtze river. In 2006, an international group of marine scientists spent six week scouring the 1,700 mile river in search of the last survivor, as the population was decimated by fishing, transport and hydroelectric power on the river. They hoped to move it to safer waters and rebuild the population- but found nothing. It was declared extinct, the first marine mammal to be wiped out for more than 50 years and the first recorded disappearance of a cetacean species due to human activity, the scientists said.

Conservation groups have been calling for more protection of its habitat for more than 10 years, when a former Environment Minister of New Zealand accused fishermen – who must record any found dead in their nets – of lying about the scale of the problem. A spokeswoman for World Wildlife Fund said: ‘The Maui’s population has been declining since the 1970s, and protection measures introduced in 2008 have not succeeded in turning the situation around. It is a national tragedy that our critically endangered dolphins are still dying needlessly in fishing nets.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) agrees and urges New Zealand to ban the use of gill and trawl nets in waters of up to 100 metres deep in an urgent bid to save them.

The New Zealand government has been aware that Maui’s dolphins range far beyond the boundary of the sanctuary since 2009, but is refusing to act on its own research.

“The thing that disturbs me most is the fact that New Zealand was the only nation amongst 117 countries and 460 organisations to vote against these measures at the 2012 IUCN’s World Conservation Congress.” ~Wayne O’Brien

‘We need to act immediately to get nets out of the water, including harbours and estuaries, to protect these dolphins throughout their range.’

For more information visit:

Watch a great appeal video by William Trubridge that was used to promote the Maui’s issue in 2012:


Recent signatures


    1. Reached 12,500 signatures

      Please join and share this event to let New Zealand know that the world won't accept their extinction. and ‪#‎911MauisDolphins.

    3. Endangered Maui's dolphins fighting for survival off NZ coast

    4. Reached 6,000 signatures
    5. Reached over 4,000 signatures ...and still climbing!

    6. Reached 4,000 signatures
    7. 2,000 signatures and climbing!

      Thank you all for supporting the Maui's Dolphin.
      This really is an IMPORTANT issue, one that cannot simply be ignored. So please continue to tell everyone you know about these beautiful creatures, and hopefully we can get to 5,000+ over the weekend!

    8. Reached 2,000 signatures
    9. We are past 100 signatures... but we desperately need more, 100's more!

    10. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • about 1 month ago

      Please bring an end to gill netting and save the Maui's from extinction.

    • Pam Hancock HOMOSASSA, FL
      • about 1 month ago


    • Lynette Atkinson AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
      • 2 months ago

      It is my duty to protect the species that share our planet

    • Donna Carattini ALBUQUERQUE, NM
      • 3 months ago

      To His Excellency, Mr. Shinzō Abe

      The Prime Minister of Japan

      To His Excellency, Mr. YAMAZAKI Masaaki,

      The President of the House of Councillors

      To His Excellency, Mr. Bunmei Ibuki

      The President of the House of Representatives

      and to all of the members of the Japanese Parliament

      I am writing you these words to express my profound admiration and respect for your nation, but admitting at the same time, a deep pain and sorrow caused by the practice that still continues today in Japan: the mass killing of dolphins.

      According to long-term studies conducted by the scientists, dolphins’ intelligence is highly developed. Dolphins are recognized to be the second most intelligent species on our planet, after Homo Sapiens. Just like us, humans, they are capable of forming complex social relationships. From ancient times, the history recorded many cases of drowning people being saved by dolphins. This implies not just a great conceptual power but also empathy, as it involves understanding that a being’s life is in danger, that the life of that being has an intrinsic value and it is worth saving, and even more, it deserves the effort of saving it. Dolphins have repeatedly demonstrated that they do this for us.

      We, the humans, always find reasons for our actions based on philosophy and religious traditions. Buddhist Wisdom, for example, urges us to help the sentient beings if we can, and if we can’t, at least we should choose not to hurt them. Dolphins behave towards people as if they would follow these noble human morals. Another important source of morality is empathy. When we realize that another being is suffering, and we connect with it emotionally and support it, we have a more complete picture of his, her or it’s drama. Empathy renders distances, even distance in time, insignificant. Seeing the images of the massacres in the past years and the capturing of the dolphins these days, deleted the 9000 kilometers between Bucharest and Tokyo.

      Every scream of fear and pain of the dolphins that are captured and killed is a sharp stab into my heart. Every bloodshed in the sea trickles like a burn onto my soul. Watching the news and the images on this subject, I could not help the tears and I wished so eagerly that I could hug all those dolphins and somehow ease their pain and save them. I am convinced that most people seeing these images of the slaughtered dolphins share the same unsettling feelings and emotions. And there are many millions…

      I am writing this open letter as a citizen among those who that are connected by the invisible thread of the same compassion and pain caused by the suffering and killing of dolphins.

      At the same time, I am writing you as a member of the Romanian Parliament, my country being probably the only country in the world that has the national coat of arms displaying two dolphins. I have recently announced the introduction in the Parliament of a draft law that aims at recognizing dolphins as non-human persons as a legal basis for strengthening their protection in the Black Sea.

      The special relationship between people and dolphins in the Black Sea region is well known throughout history. About 2600 years ago, around the time of the first Emperors of Japan, the first city on the present territory of Romania was founded on the Black Sea shore. It was the famous ancient Greek colony called Tomis, where the great roman poet Ovid was exiled few centuries latter and wrote a large part of his work, and where the coins that were put into use by the ancient inhabitants were printed not with the image of some political figure, but with the images of dolphins.

      Nowadays, the images of dolphins captured and slaughtered in Japan, are shuddering the planet. The dolphins suffered terribly, understanding that they are going to be killed. Some have seriously injured themselves until bleeding in their desperate attempt to escape. I have also noticed among them a rare albino baby, that was swimming terrified next to his mother. I think that the white baby dolphin will become a symbol for all those who call for a humane treatment for the dolphins worldwide.

      I am convinced that you have received and you will receive many messages calling for a human and honorable solution to this problem. I sincerely hope with all my heart that you will take all these messages into account, and that the day when you put an end to such horrors is near. It is entirely in your power to stop the killing of dolphins in Japan.

    • Muriel H. Dandurand FRANKLIN, VT
      • 3 months ago

      The world is losing its flora & fauna at an alarming rate. Man's inhumanity to other species is both a disgrace and does not speak well of our "higher species" status!


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