15% of all Maui dolphins killed by cats

Not the actual cat responsible.

Well, here’s another ‘inconvenient truth’: A cat parasite, Toxoplasmosis, is a significant cause of death among Maui and Hector’s dolphins, killing more dolphins than commercial fishing.

Eugene Sage has ordered a cull of all cats within a 10km distance of any waters inhabited by Hector’s or Maui dolphins, or any rivers feeding those waters. /Tui.

(Apologies too, for stretching the numbers a tad to create the headline. 9 out of 60 is 15%, but the nine were not just Maui dolphins.) Quote.

A microscopic parasite spread by cats has been found to be the main non-fishery cause of deaths for Maui and Hector’s dolphin in a new scientific study.

Toxoplasmosis has killed nine Maui and Hector’s dolphins recovered in New Zealand since 2007 and is to blame for more deaths than commercial fishing.

The 18-month study was undertaken by Niwa’s Dr Jim Roberts, Massey University and Quantafish, leading to a revived understanding of the dolphin’s biology.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said the industry is doing its part to prevent dolphin deaths and welcomes the results of the study.

“It is heartening to see recognition that commercial fishing is not the most significant threat to the sustainability of the dolphins and with that, the opportunity to prevent further deaths,” said Pankhurst.

“The industry remains focused on preventing dolphin deaths.

No Maui death has been attributed to commercial fishing since 2002 and that is because we have vast areas of ocean closed to trawling and set-netting in dolphin territory.”

Maui dolphins are thought to only number 60 alive today, compared to about 15,000 Hector’s dolphins.

Both species of dolphin have a preference for cloudy, coastal waters which house red cod and small inshore fish, their main food source.

Unfortunately, these waters have also bought them into contact with other threats, including toxoplasmosis which is spread by cats and is carried down streams and rivers into the ocean, Roberts said.

He said little is known about the parasite but Professor Wendi Roe and colleagues from Massey University has found it has killed native birds including kereru and kiwi. […]

“[…] if carcasses that wash up on our shoreline are representative of the cause of death in the wider population, the numbers of dolphins dying from toxoplasmosis are likely to be much greater than commercial fishery deaths.

“They may add up to hundreds each year for both the East and West Coast dolphin populations.” End quote.

A Newspaper


Cats are directly killing native birds on land by climbing into nests etc and their parasites are killing kereru and kiwi. Now we find that our much loved and endangered dolphins are also in danger from cats.

What are the cat-loving greenies going to do about this?

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Public Health Advisory:
It is not only dolphins at risk, people can catch toxoplasmosis from:

  • touching or coming into contact with infected cat faeces (poop). A cat can become infected from eating infected rodents, birds, or other small animals.
  • eating raw or undercooked meat (especially lamb, pork, and venison) from animals that were infected
  • eating raw, unwashed fruits or vegetables that have touched manure
  • being born with it (a woman who gets toxoplasmosis while pregnant may pass the parasite to her unborn child through the bloodstream)
  • accidentally ingesting (swallowing) the eggs of the parasite, which can get on the hands after handling soil without gloves or handling uncooked, unwashed foods
  • drinking contaminated water
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