Friday, October 14, 2005

Sand mining could destroy Hawaiian dolphin specie

Dr Liz Slooten – who is speaking about the dolphin in Hamilton this week – said mining companies already mined parts of the West Coast but were seeking consent to extend their range. With just 111 maui's dolphins left in the wild, Dr Slooten said they were the marine equivalent of the kakapo and teetering on extinction.

The impact of mining on their habitat would be devastating.

"It's not like the sand miners will be directly harming the dolphins but what they do is literally vacuum up the sand in the area."

The sand is used for making steel and either dumped after the iron has been extracted or used to make concrete.

"They can't really go along hoovering up these species and put them back, some of them dead, some of them alive, without any consequences."

Studies showed a stretch of mined sand would take more than a decade for the natural ecological community to recover.

The sand contains and sustains many species, including the fish maui's dolphins eat.
Dr Slooten said the dolphin population –- which was up to 400 –- was now at a level where "we need to do everything we possibly can to reduce human impact".

Dr Slooten's talk about maui's dolphin and marine conservation threats on the North Island's West Coast is on Thursday at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion at 7.30pm.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"