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What’s killing NZ’s rarest dolphins?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What’s killing NZ’s rarest dolphins?

PALMERSTON NORTH – The carcasses of two Maui’s dolphins – New Zealand’s most endangered species – are on their way to Massey where veterinary pathologists will conduct post-mortem examinations.

Found near the south head of the Manukau Harbour in Auckland yesterday, the mother and calf (in a state of decomposition) were bought to the marine mammal research centre at Massey’s Auckland campus.

Marine mammal scientist Dr Mark Orams says the adult female is one of the largest he has seen and he is keen to see what his colleagues in Palmerston North find out during the postmortem examinations.

Dr Orams says the species are on the verge of extinction and that they continue to be trapped and drown in recreational set nets although the use of set nets is banned on the stretches of the west coast of the North Island that is their habitat.

“We may well be the first nation in the world to see the extinction of a marine dolphin species as the result of human activity. They are a very rare native dolphin and are genetically quite distinct – once they are gone, they are gone forever."

Dr Wendi Roe, a marine mammal pathologist in the Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, will examine the dolphins when they arrive later this week.


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