Māui dolphins
PHOTO: Martin Stanley | DOC


We are involved with numerous stakeholders and conduct a wide range of work concerning the critically endangered Māui dolphin.

Much of this work is influenced and guided by the Hector’s and Māui Dolphin Threat Management Plan, and the recent review of the Māui dolphin component.

Research and scientific studies continue to increase our knowledge about Māui dolphin ecology, conservation status, life history, and threats. The information is required to ensure that Māui dolphin can be managed for their long-term viability and recovery throughout their natural range.

Information on the distribution of Māui dolphin has been collected from a wide variety of sources. These include research surveys, public sightings and a range of other scientific studies. We follow specific protocols to collect samples and undertake a necropsy when a dead Hector’s or Māui dolphin is found. This contributes to the database of reported Hector's and Māui dolphin deaths that we administer.

There is still a lot that we don’t know about Māui dolphin, including:

  • if the population can recover, and how quickly
  • how they will be affected by the increasing use of their home range by humans, eg marine mining, seismic surveying, marine construction and coastal development
  • if there is the potential for interbreeding between Māui dolphins and South Island Hector's dolphins
    • DOC surveys in 2010 and 2011, and again in 2015 and 2016 found that there were at least two South Island Hector's dolphins swimming among the Māui dolphins
    • While there is no evidence yet of interbreeding, if they did this may provide Māui dolphin with a much-needed boost by increasing their genetic diversity.

DOC, together with university researchers and conservation groups, is seeking answers to these questions using a range of research methods and techniques. You can help with this research by reporting sightings of Māui dolphin.

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