Former Havelock North man and world record freediver William Trubridge has put his hand up as poster boy for the world's rarest dolphins.
The 15-times freediving guru has called for better protection of New Zealand's Hector's and Maui's dolphins, which live nowhere else.<inline type="video" id="12752" align="normal"/>
"Hector's Dolphins are the world's smallest and most endangered dolphin," Mr Trubridge said. "One of its two subspecies, the Maui's Dolphin, has a population of fewer than 80."
The former Havelock North High School student joined forces with German conservation group NABU International Foundation for Nature and the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust in their campaign to stop the dolphins' extinction.
"Hector's and Maui's dolphin numbers have been dwindling towards extinction for more than 30 years, mostly due to the deadly gill nets and trawlers that operate in their territory. Instead of defending this beautiful species, the current government has caved in to the fishing industry and further reduced their protection."
To launch his new role as worldwide Hector's and Maui's dolphin ambassador, Mr Trubridge recorded a unique under water video message at his winter training ground in the Bahamas. Facing the camera without breathing equipment, he urged everyone to do their bit to save this troubled species by signing a petition to the New Zealand government and by joining the Facebook group Hector's and Maui's Dolphin SOS.
He also asked that people not buy fish caught using nets that harm the species, and to think twice about visiting New Zealand until the government acts to protect them.
"We don't have long to fix this. Saving this species is a race against time. Commercial and recreational gill nets and trawling must be banned in the dolphins' range for any water shallower than 100 meters. Otherwise Maui's and Hector's dolphins will be the first species of marine cetacean [dolphins & whales] to become extinct due to human causes. We can't afford to lose a single one."