Drones in New Zealand to protect endangered dolphins
The New Zealand’s government is supporting a new project using drone technology to understand and protect the endangered Māui dolphins in the country. Maui dolphins live in a small stretch of ocean off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island and current estimates suggest that only 63 dolphins older than one year remain, raising concerns that they may soon become extinct.
The new Māui Drone Project is a one-year collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), non-profit wildlife technology organization MAUI63 and WWF-New Zealand.
The technology has the potential to compile detailed data on the habitats, population size and distribution and behavior of the dolphins, along with many other types of marine species such as other dolphins, seabirds, and whales, officials said.
There has been unfortunately for many years disputes over how to best protect Maui dolphins, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after announcing the initiative, adding that the government has stepped in to fund the project and help protect the dolphins. But we need everyone to come together.
“By advancing our understanding of how Māui dolphins behave during the day and throughout the year this project will help us ensure the measures our Government has already put in place to protect our Māui dolphins are robust and appropriate,” said Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker.
The drone ensures dolphins remain undisturbed as they fly at an altitude of over 120 meters.
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