New underwater research has confirmed that Hector's or Māui dolphins are often present in the Taranaki region.
The Department of Conservation, (DOC) worked with the University of Auckland to deploy and analyse acoustic devices placed at various points along the coast of Taranaki and Whanganui between November 2016 and April 2019.
The acoustic devices known as C-Pods deployed along the coast of Taranaki and Whanganui have detected click trains in the high frequency that Māui and Hector's dolphins emit when foraging.
DOC's Manager Marine Species and Threats Ian Angus says, "The results give us further evidence that Hector's or Māui dolphins are regularly present in the coastal waters of Tongaporutu, Taranaki, and visit as far south as Tapuae."
The most recent verified sighting was off the coast of Patea, just north of the Whanganui River.
The devices were deployed in Taranaki inside the existing area where protection measures are in place.
The next step will be to locate the devices outside this area to verify how far the dolphins range.The Minister of Conservation and Minister of Fisheries are currently determining whether further management options are needed as part of the review of the Hector's and Māui dolphin Threat Management Plan.
There are approximately 63 Māui dolphins in existence.