Marine Dolphin Extinct: Smallest And Rarest Breed Could Be Gone In 15 Years

A wide range of factors across the globe contribute to the dwindling number of certain species every day, but thankfully we live in an era where scientists are able to keep a closer watch on how a certain type of animal is faring than ever before. A marine dolphin found primarily off the coast of New Zealand is one such creature that could disappear from our earth altogether if the remaining specimens of its species are not adequately protected, reported BBC.

This particular breed of marine dolphin, the smallest of its kind, has now hit alarmingly low numbers. Fewer than 50 total specimens of the marine dolphin have been located — only 10 of which are mature females. Such numbers are shocking for the biologists who have been examining the marine dolphins. While the word “extinct” may sound rash now, experts say that they could be wiped out entirely in just 15 years. Dr Barbara Maas, German conservation organization Nabu’s head of endangered species conservation, says that unchecked fishing practices would be largely to blame for that.

“These new figures are a loud wakeup call: New Zealand has to abandons its current stance, which places the interests of the fishing industry above biodiversity conservation, and finally protect the dolphins’ habitat from harmful fishing nets, seismic airgun blasts and oil and gas extraction.”

New Zealand’s conservation ministry has declined to comment on the matter until the environmental organizations full report is presented at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference in June. From there, the country will most likely proceed with action in order to prevent the marine dolphin extinction.

Many of the deaths endangering this species of marine dolphin have occurred as a result of extensive and deadly fishing practices, according to environmental groups. New Zealand previously took action in order to protect the species when it was first revealed to be endangered several years ago.

Those measures, however, left those advocating for the marine dolphin unsatisfied. While use of the nets that often ensnare and kill the dolphins has been limited in a larger range of area, the practice of the fishing technique is still used frequently within the accompanying area. Nick Smith, the country’s conservation minister at the time, explained that he did not deem it necessary to close fishing in the entire area, reported BBC.

“We are taking a cautious approach by banning set netting where there is clear evidence the Maui’s dolphins go while not unnecessarily banning fishing where they are not.”

Do you think these marine dolphins will go extinct?

[Image via David McNew/Getty Images]