In a world class display of hypocrisy, after opening up the world’s largest marine sanctuary and vowing to reduce fossil fuel subsidies, the New Zealand government has opened up a marine reserve of the world’s rarest dolphin for oil exploration – most significantly, seismic surveys.

Maui’s dolphin or popoto is the world’s rarest and smallest known subspecies of dolphin.

The Maui dolphin is the world’s rarest, with under 60 individuals remaining in the wild – all in the waters around New Zealand. The area that was opened for exploration overlaps 3000 square kilometres into the sanctuary, including some large areas of the Tarnaki coast in the north island. However, the government doesn’t appear to be too worried.

“I think primarily once you go from exploration right through to production, you’re not jeopardising the wildlife,” says Minister of Energy and Resources Mr Bridges.

Of course, that’s not even remotely true. Even if it never gets to the extraction, just exploration can be very dangerous for marine wildlife. Seismic prospection lies at the very core of exploration; what happens is that specially equipped vessels carry one or more cables containing a series of hydrophones at constant intervals. These hydrophones record the acoustic waves coming from one or several sources, which are almost always airguns. The main problem is that marine seismic surveys have a high risk of disturbing, damaging or even killing marine wildlife, especially cetaceans as dolphins and whales which rely on sound to communicate with one another (and even to navigate).

It has been shown that several species of whales purposefully avoid their regular migratory and breeding grounds where seismic surveys are carried, despite claims coming from oil companies and fossil fuel associations. However, as it often happens, the importance of protecting wildlife fades in comparison to those black, oily dollars.

“There has been petroleum exploration in that area for a long period of time,” says Mr Bridges. “I think it’s about achieving a balance.”

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Copyright 2015 ZME Science

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  1. 1

    The world’s geopolitics are dominated by securing oil and gas. New Zealand’s prime minister was removed via CIA leaks, what pressure was applied in this case?

    It’s all so stupid.

    Solar and wind are now available cheaper than any other sources. Before gov breaks

  2. 2

    “New Zealand’s prime minister was removed via CIA leaks”…… WE WISH! Re this article – everything is correct EXCEPT the headline! It is NOT New Zealand – it is the cretinous right wing government lead by Don John Key and his ridiculously asinine off-sider Slimy Bridges and this government is anathema to a growing segment of NZ society! Please slam our government but forgive the people!

  3. 3

    Thank you! John Key does NOT represent New Zealand. He has no political experience; he was planted as our prime minister (by Jenny Shipley, who is a malicious, conniving snake) to do things no sane human would do. We detest John Key and the terrible things he’s done. Our country needs help. The current dictatorship is destroying our land, our lives, our families. PLEASE HELP US

  4. 4

    I don’t have any over way to word that besides how much of a coward and a horrible man he is, and all the damages he has done to our country, even my 14 year old kid hates him now, and that shows a lot coming from both her and her friends!

  5. 5

    This shows the world exactly what the corrupt, duplicitous, scheming, greedy, malignant govt that we have is doing to OUR country. John Key is an american plant, sent her to destabilise our country and he is doing a great job. He is a disgusting excuse for a human being and he’s an oxygen thief.

  6. 6

    Washington’s man in Parnel has a specific group of beneficiaries in the corporations he needs to protect hence the extinction of just one more species of the 200 / day that go extinct is no big deal to him. I love that we are committed to saving the Maui’s dolphin but I wish that we could all have the same empathy and drive to save the less charismatic species as well.
    We live in an eco-system where every species has the ability to be a ‘Keystone’ species in the chain of life which is now patently broken and unraveling. Brace for impact

  7. 7

    I saw this, and commented, the other day. The world has enough known reserves of oil and gas, now, to see us to extinction. This is so typical of our tory p.m. (doesn’t deserve caps) driven by the corporate greed and installed in our parliment by outside interests. He is NOT the popular person he thinks, but we can’t get rid of him till 2017. His lackeys are all blindsided by him because he passes the pshycopathic test with points to spare.

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