Our Seas Our Future co-ordinator Suzanne Burns and founder
Noel Jhinku with a cut-out Maui's dolphin to be used in an
awareness campaign. Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle.
A Dunedin marine conservation group is creating an art
exhibition that puts into perspective the plight of one of New
Zealand's most endangered species.
There are only an estimated 50 Maui's dolphins left in the
world and to mark this Our Seas Our Future (Osof) plans to
set up 50 newsprint Maui's dolphin cut-outs somewhere at the
St Kilda Esplanade.
The cut-outs measure between 40cm and 50cm, and will be stuck
to a wall some time in December.
Then they will be left to the mercy of the elements and will
gradually fade, representing the decline of the species.
Osof is discussing which wall at St Clair will be used with
the Dunedin City Council and business owners.
The dolphin cut-outs were designed by a Northland-based
artist who sent them to Osof founder Noel Jhinku about a year
Mr Jhinku hoped to use the cut-outs as part of a short film
Osof was making about the Maui's dolphin. The project would
also represent the Hector's dolphin which looked identical
and was also endangered, he said.
''We were wanting to do something to increase the impact of
the cut-outs as much as possible,'' he said.
The 20th Biennial Conference on Marine Mammals was to be held
at the University of Otago in December and Mr Jhinku believed
this would tie in well with the effort.
He hoped to get comment from some of the experts attending
the conference for the film.
The 1.5m-long Maui's dolphin is the smallest and rarest
marine dolphin in the world. It is a sub-species of the
Hector's dolphin, and lives off the west coast of the North
The dolphins have distinctive grey, white, and black markings
and a short beak, and are most easily distinguished by their
unusual round dorsal fin.
Maui's dolphins are generally found close to shore in pods of
The dolphins lived up to 20 years but had a very slow
reproductive cycle with females only being ready to breed
once they were at least seven years old.
Once they could reproduce, females only had one calf every
two or four years.
The population had been decimated by fishing to the point
where there were estimated to be only about 50 left alive in
the world, Mr Jhinku said.
It is classified as a critically endangered species by the
International Union for Conservation of Nature.