The critically endangered Maui’s dolphin of New Zealand has a restricted home range between Port Waikato and the Manukau Harbour along the west coast of North Island, but little is known about their fine-scale movement patterns within this area. Bycatch in setnet and trawl fisheries are the main causes of population declines, so it is critical that dolphins and these fishing activities are separated in space and time.

The GEMM Lab is working with colleagues at the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Department of Conservation to collect individual sightings data using survey and photo-ID methods to address this conservation issue. The data will be spatially analyzed relative to behavior state, social group dynamics, and environmental variability to provide a fine-scale understanding of Maui’s dolphin habitat use patterns throughout the core part of their habitat.