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Artificial intelligence project to help protect last 63 Māui dolphins backed by WWF New Zealand


An artificial intelligence project that will provide information to help protect the last remaining 63 Māui dolphins in New Zealand has been backed by WWF-New Zealand. 

Māui dolphins Source: Supplied

The organisation announced at the weekend that it is working with MAUI63, to support their project which would see an artificial intelligence-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capturing data on the dolphins and their habitat, behaviour and more.

MAUI63 is a small group of scientists, developers, and tech experts dedicated to protecting marine life in New Zealand and have been trialling the UAV technology for the past 18 months. 

In order for MAUI63 to buy the equipment and operate the project, WWF-New Zealand said it needs help raising $350,000 before the end of the year. 

MAUI63 states a UAV can search for the dolphins for up to six hours and can distinguish Māui and Hector’s dolphins from other species with over 90 per cent accuracy.

The biggest threats for the dolphins, according to MAUI63, are location related.

By identifying individual dolphins, knowing where they are and when they are there, the group aims to help protect the dolphins from threats like predators, fishing, climate change and toxoplasmosis.