Mining threatens rare Maui’s dolphins

The world’s rarest dolphin could become extinct if a seabed mining scheme near the west coast feeding grounds of the Maui’s dolphin gets the go ahead, say environmentalists.

The Waikato Times

The critically endangered Maui’s dolphin, of which there were an estimated 55 adults left in 2012, was the prime concern of many submitters in Hamilton [8th April 2014] during the second day of an Environmental Protection Agency hearing into Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) application to annually mine 50 million tonnes of seabed material.

A Wellington march to parliament in 2012 aimed to raise awareness of Maui’s dolphin numbers, which is one of the major issues being raised at a hearing into seabed mining in Hamilton this week.

Raglan’s Whaingaroa Environment Centre worker Danielle Hart called for the agency to dismiss the application, relating to a 65.76 square kilometre zone about 22 to 36 kilometres off Patea, because of the threat to Maui’s dolphin.

“Maui is at a critically low level – we cannot afford to take risks and lose even one individual,” she said.

Hart said New Zealand was being asked to put the marine environment at risk for business purposes.

“I’ve heard numerous concerns from people in the community, and further afield, about TTR’s application.”

Hart said Maui Dolphin Day, at Raglan, was attended by 2000 people every year.

“People battle the winds to stand on the beach, join hands and send a message.”

Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphins Education/Action Inc chairperson Christine Rose said 70,000 people in New Zealand had signed petitions calling for protection of the two dolphin species.

“Even conservative Government experts concede that Maui’s dolphins cannot sustain a single human-induced mortality in any 10- to 23-year period if the species is to survive . . . The effects of seabed mining on top of the other threats such as some types of fishing are a step too far.”

Rose said both the Department of Conservation and Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan had identified seabed mining as an important threat.

“TTR’s experts admit the limits to their knowledge . . . They are taking a best guess at noise effects from the seabed mining operation and are working on incomplete information about dolphin distribution . . .

“Potential effects on Maui’s and Hector’s dolphin include noise, collisions with vessels and mining equipment, habitat displacement and damage, pollution and secondary effects from the plume on food prey species, including in the coastal habitat.”

Rose said it was of major concern that no base line of habitat occupation or potential effects existed and there was a lack of systematic science.

“TTR fail to scientifically establish an absence of dolphins from the area. They also fail to establish an absence of effects.

“The critically endangered status of Maui’s and Hectors dolphins, and moral and international obligations require all efforts to ensure the preservation but also the recovery of this species.

“This requires avoiding introducing new threats into the dolphins’ habitat – out to at least 100m deep, and in the dolphin corridor between the North and South Islands.”

Raglan resident John Lawson said a lot of the information surrounding the application was either uncertain or incomplete.

“We need to wait until we do know . . . Adjourn this hearing until you have got more information.”

Agency hearing committee chair Greg Hill, with members Gillian Wratt, Brett Rogers, William Kapea and Stephen Christensen, are considering 60,000 pages of submissions in their decision-making process.

The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday and then moves to New Plymouth.

– © Fairfax NZ News


ARKive is a not-for-profit initiative
of the charity Wildscreen

With the help of the world’s best wildlife filmmakers and photographers, conservationists and scientists, ARKive are creating an awe-inspiring record of life on Earth.

Freely accessible to everyone and preserved for the benefit of future generations, ARKive is a truly invaluable resource for conservation, education and public awareness.

They feature short articles on endangered animals like the North Island Brown Kiwi and link to images and video about them.








Species: North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: The North Island brown kiwi is more like a mammal than a bird, with fur-like feathers, muscular legs and even cat-like whiskers on its face.

Another example is this cutie, the Doria’s tree kangaroo!








Species: Doria’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus dorianus)

Status: Vulnerable (VU)

Interesting Fact: Doria’s tree kangaroo is the heaviest tree-dwelling marsupial in the world, weighing as much as 20 kilograms, and is capable of jumping down to the ground from a height of up to 18 metres without injury.

Kiwi egg could hatch another white Chick

MATHEW GROCOTT reports (Last updated 12:00 14/01/2014) for The Standard that staff and visitors at Pukaha Mt Bruce are hoping for another white kiwi after The Department of Conservation-run wildlife sanctuary at the bottom of the Tararua District revealed it was caring for two eggs from the father of Manukura last week. Manukura is a white kiwi born in 2011 that gained international media attention.

Manukura’s father carries the recessive gene responsible for white feathers, so there is a chance his offspring will be white like Manukura and two other birds born at the the same centre after Manukura.

One egg hatched on Friday night, revealing a North Island brown kiwi without the white feather genes.

Centre manager Helen Tickner said “We still have one [egg] that might produce a white kiwi for us, there’s an outside chance.”

“We don’t know who the mother of the egg is but kiwi generally stick together,” Ms Tickner said.

If the eggs were laid by Manukura’s, and the other two white Kiwi’s, mother there is a 25 per cent chance of another white Kiwi.

Seven kiwi have hatched at Mt Bruce since September 2013. Six more eggs being cared for.

Ms Tickner said it had been a successful breeding season at Mt Bruce.

The Operation Nest Egg programme has Pukaha staff members monitor eggs laid in the forest for about 70 days, at which point the eggs are taken to a secure nursery for incubation. Ms Tickner said North Island brown kiwi chicks have about a 5 per cent chance of survival in the wild. In captivity those odds increased to about 65 per cent.

After hatching kiwi are raised to a weight at which they’re able to defend themselves from predators before being released back into the centre’s 942-hectare forest reserve, which is protected by an intensive predator-trapping programme.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Tiny kiwi egg found in central North Island

Tiny kiwi egg found in central North Island  3:34 PM Friday Jan 24, 2014



The brown kiwi egg weighs just 217.6g.

Conservationists say a tiny kiwi egg found in the central North Island is the smallest of its kind.
The brown kiwi egg weighed just 217.6g when it arrived at Rotorua’s Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter conservation centre last week from Whirinaki Forest.
The clutch it came from produced only one other egg – weighing a much more normal 442.1g.
Claire Travers, husbandry manager at the centre’s Kiwi Encounter, said the contents of the small egg already had a name – Mini.
Today is the 68th day of incubation and the egg is on schedule to hatch before the end of the month.
Ms Travers said it was the smallest brown kiwi egg the centre knew of. The previous smallest weighed 292g at the same stage of incubation.
“This arrival is one of the most eagerly awaited in some time,” she said.
It was a mystery why the mother had laid such a small egg, Ms Travers said.
“Possible factors are that it is diet-related or it could point to issues with her ovaries or reproductive tract. Whatever caused Mini to be laid, he or she can be assured of the very best care come hatching time.”
Cameras have been installed at the centre and intensive care specialists are ready to help with the hatching.


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Format Change at Kiwiman Comics!!!

All new for the New Year !!!

We’ve changed the format to how we bring you our patented brand of mistery-action-adventure-comedy!!!

From today forward our ongoing webcomic Kiwiman For Sale will be published as a four panel post each Wednesday!!!

KIWIMAN COMICS: improving your Kiwiman Comic Experience!!!

Old School




Wellington Protest, International Marine Conference – “Set Net Ban too weak”

A Protest in Wellington and the  20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Dunedin both warn against weak proposal to mildly extend set net ban.

However Taranaki Fishermen hope that a court case brought by International Conservation against the NZ Govt.’s weak changes to set-net ban region within what is understood to be Maui’s Dolphin habitat, will undermine the same current ban.

These Fishermen continue to claim scientific evidence is falsified or misrepresentational (as is an industry standard seen throughout recent times, including through the Orange Roughy collapse) despite the lack of a motive or opposing evidence. The restrictions extend a ban on using set nets by 350 square kilometres off the Taranaki coast.

Dr Smith’s restrictions mean set nets will be banned up to 13km offshore between Pariokariwa Pt and the Waiwhakaiho River in Taranaki, a 350sq km increase to existing net restrictions running along the west coast of the North Island from Maunganui Bluff, near Dargaville.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimated the measure would cost New Plymouth fishers $81,000 each year.

The German conservation group, NABU International, says it will mount a legal challenge because the restrictions don’t go far enough. Egmont Seafoods says it expects a judge will find the rules are too restrictive and that NABU has presented misleading information to the International Whaling Commission.

The WWF is also considering challenge to dolphin rules, joining NABU in a legal challenge to the new rules set-net ban, saying the new restrictions are damaging to New Zealand’s international reputation.

WWF head of Campaign head Peter Hardstaff argues the dolphin’s habitat extends well beyond that and the ruling sends the wrong message.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has refused to comment on any possible legal action and says that Government stands by its measures to protect the dolphin.

Meanwhile the world’s largest marine mammal conference of about 1100 marine scientists and conservationists attended the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, which began in Dunedin on Monday were warned that Maui’s dolphin is headed for extinction.

Professor Steve Dawson from Otago University told those gathered that the Government is unwilling to restrict economic activities, such as fishing, unless it absolutely has to.

Professor Dawson said it is trying to get compromises that science shows are not achievable and the lack urgent action to save the Maui’s dolphin is an international shame.

Conference organisers say human activities at sea and in rivers are posing an increasing threat to marine mammals. Earlier this year, they wrote to Conservation Minister Nick Smith asking him to extend a netting ban to cover the entire range of the Maui’s dolphin’s habitat. Nick Smith announced in late November that the Government would extend a set-net fishing ban off the Taranaki coast, but this is not an immediate measure and it also miserably fails to encapsulate the Maui’s habitat.

Also this month public response has grown to the NZ Govt.’s lack of leadership and commitment to the conservation of Maui’s Dolphin.

In Wellington on the 4th of December about 100 activists have staged what they call a “funeral procession” through central Wellington to protest a lack of Government protection for Maui’s dolphins.

no caption

Campaigners protested New Zealand’s set-net fishing restrictions saying that they are a death sentence for the Maui’s dolphins, they marched to parliament and laid cardboard coffins and fishing nets full of plastic junk outside Parliament.

A ‘funeral procession’ for the endangered species, held in Wellington, ended in an emotional gathering on the steps of Parliament.

It is now believed there are fewer than 50 of the dolphins left in the world.

The protest was organised by the Maui’s and Hector’s Education/Action group and the Berlin-based Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, to protest Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s proposed extension of set net restrictions as too small to guarantee the survival of the Maui’s dolphin species.

Maui’s and Hector’s Education/Action group chairwoman Christine Rose said today’s protest showed how angry people were about the Government’s attitude towards the world’s rarest, smallest and loveliest marine dolphin.

“We’re angry, but there is hope. We know based on the best scientific evidence that if we remove those human-induced threats from the Maui’s habitat, that they can recover to half their 1970 population by 2030. They can recover,” Ms Rose said.

Ms Rose said the species can cope with only one death every 10 to 23 years, but about five Maui’s dolphins die due to human activities each year.

Labour MP Ruth Dyson, who was among a group of politicians which met the protest march outside Parliament today, said economic impacts of fishing restrictions needed to be set aside when making conservation decisions about Maui’s dolphins.

“This has to be a contest of responsibility where conservation wins.”

NZ Government ignores preeminent marine mammal scientists as call for action strengthens

A press release issued early last month from NABU International – Foundation for Nature (website) (Facebook) has spotlighted the high profile science groups calling for more from the NZ government than the proposed slight increase to the Maui’s Dolphin sanctuary, or set-net ban territory.

From NABU press release from Scoop … “In the past 15 months three international scientific bodies have repeatedly urged the New Zealand Government to protect the world’s smallest and rarest dolphins from extinction. But the calls by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) have fallen on deaf ears. Now the SMM, the preeminent body of international marine mammal scientists, issues its third appeal to the Government, stating that any further fishing-related deaths are unacceptable if Maui’s dolphins are to survive. The Society’s letter follows the announcement of proposals to slightly increase protection for Maui’s dolphins, and the death of a Maui’s dolphin on the 13th September [later shown to have died of old age in a necropsy/autopsy NZHerald ].”

Conservation Minister Nick Smith was quoted in the NZ Herald saying ‘… “The information would have been very gloomy in the event that it had been caused by human carelessness or some criminal act. That’s not the circumstances here.” …

… He says given the population of the Maui’s dolphins is so fragile, it’s important all fatalities are reported.

“When you’ve only got 55 of these left, they’re the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world, we need every possible piece of information we can get our hands on so we can try and understand the species.”

… Dr Smith says ensuring dead dolphins such as this one can be analysed by scientists is important, because it teaches us more about the species …’

So why is he ignoring calls from the foremost mammalogists in the world to extend the set net ban, to halt all Dolphin un-friendly fishing methods in the full Maui’s Dolphin territories to ensure the survival of this species and the opportunity to learn more about it?

Could it be that Nick Smith’s comment that dead dolphins can be analysed by scientists to teach us more about the species is pure cynicism, undermining his interest in “… every possible piece of information we can get our hands on so we can try and understand the species …”. What use is understanding the species if we let it die?

The information to hand is more than adequate to call for a watershed change in the way New Zealand regulates it’s fisheries, the calls of respected marine biologists and scientists, such as Dr Liz Slooten ( link ), are proof to that fact.

To quote Dr Slooten … “Occasional claims in the media that we’re “not sure” if fishing is the most serious impact or that “more research” is needed, come from individuals on the fringe. The fishing industry was consulted exhaustively on this issue, and had many opportunities to state those kinds of views. The consensus, based on decades of scientific research and fisheries monitoring (e.g. placing independent observers on fishing boats) is that fishing nets are the number one threat.

And a final quote from Labour’s Conservation Spokesperson Ruth Dyson ‘… “Nick Smith needs to take strong action now. He could support the future existence of the Maui’s dolphins with a complete ban on gill nets and trawling, as well as support the fishing industry with a financial transition package to move to sustainable fishing practices,” …’ (Voxy)

NABU International – Foundation for Nature has started a petition on

Please consider signing this and send Nick Smith your own letter too!

This petition will be delivered to:

Minister of Conservation, New Zealand

Hon. Nick Smith

SAVE MAUI’S DOLPHINS NOW! Marine Mammal Sanctuary Submission

The New Zealand government has asked for public comments on its proposals by 10th October ( . This process gives everyone the opportunity to have their say on how the last 50 Maui’s dolphins should be protected. By signing this petition you can make a formal submission right now and let New Zealand know that the world cares and won’t accept their willful extinction!

If you prefer you may follow the DOC’s submission guidelines below or at their website.

Also please note: If you made a submission to DOC between the hours of 5:41 pm Tuesday 17 September 2013 and 1:30 pm Wednesday 18 September 2013, there is a very strong possibility that we did not receive your submission due to technical issues. If your submission was affected by this, it would be greatly appreciated if you could re-send us your submission.

Submissions on the proposed variation close 4:00 pm Thursday 10 October 2013.

Female Brown Kiwi Survives Car Accident Unbroken!

Wildlife vet Karina Gonzalez Argandona and assistants worked on the accident surviving female brown kiwi at Wildbase Hospital to provide initial care, mainting fluids, providing pain relief and bandaging the affected leg.

Vet and Kiwi

Wildlife vet Karina Gonzalez Argandona with the Kiwi patient

Department of Conservation staff brought the kiwi to Wildbase Hospital, part of the Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Palmerston North.

The hospital treats rare and endangered native birds, reptiles and mammals from all over New Zealand and  provides hands-on training in wildlife medicine for final-year Massey University veterinary students as a  respected teaching and research facility.

According to the Manawatu Standard’s article (click here) ‘… the kiwi had been hit by a car travelling at 70kmh near Whanganui, but sustained no serious injuries.

Wildlife vet Karina Gonzalez Argandona said a thorough examination, including a radiograph, found that she had no fractures.

“There was some severe bruising and soft tissue swelling and she has lost a patch of feathers.”

The kiwi was lucky to be alive and would stay at Wildbase Hospital for several more weeks until it had recovered.

“We need to make sure its feathers have re-grown because it will die of exposure if we release it before then.”

The bird is receiving antibiotics, pain relief and food while in care.’

A youtube video shows the kiwi being cared for at the animal centre. Kiwi Care at Wildbase Hospital

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