All over the world, marine protected areas do exactly what they’re supposed to – a superior job of keeping sea creatures safe from harm. Good news, but what’s particularly exciting is a new study showing that marine protected areas improve survival for marine mammals.
For 21 years, ecologists in New Zealand studied a marine protected area near Christchurch. The area provides shelter for one of the rarest dolphin species in the world, Hector’s dolphins. These small dolphins boast distinctive black-and-white markings and an unusually rounded dorsal fins. They’re also notable for a sadder reason – once hunted as “bait”, often tangled in gillnets, currently threatened by pollution, the Hector’s dolphin population has dwindled to a fraction of what it once was.