Just 55 Maui's dolphins remain - and celebrity activists including actor Cori Gonzalez-Macuer fear the number will simply get smaller and smaller.
The What We Do In The Shadows star was quick to jump on board when his friend, photographer Louise Hatton, said she was producing posters to raise awareness of the marine mammal's plight.
"I knew a little, but I was quite ignorant to how big a deal it really is."
Gonzalez-Macuer was given just 55 words on the poster - which went up across Wellington at the weekend - to get across a message about the native species, which is the world's smallest dolphin.
From his experience, protecting New Zealand's unique wildlife is important to all Kiwis, regardless of political affiliation.
"We've got to get the word out - help people realise there are just 55. And they're ours."
Gonzalez-Macuer is spreading the word among his family and friends, asking them to sign the World Wildlife Fund petition calling for the Government to protect the sub-species of Hector's dolphin "wherever they swim".
Each poster captures a high- profile Kiwi supporting the cause.
Fellow Shadows actor Jonny Brugh and Hurricanes player Brad Shields also signed up.
Nelson-based Hatton hoped the "portraits of concern" would spur people into finding out more about Maui's and other threatened species.
"All these animals are becoming extinct by our own hand. It's the human race that's doing it and so we're the only ones who can turn it around."
The petition, to be handed to the Government this week, has more than 1500 signatures for each of the 55 remaining adult Maui's.
That number was estimated by the Department of Conservation in 2010 and 2011, and was half of the 111 adults believed to be in the total population in 2006.
While the Government extended a set-net ban off the coast of Taranaki, WWF believes the ban does not cover the dolphin's full territory, which could stretch as far south as the Whanganui River mouth and out to an ocean depth of 100 metres.
- The Dominion Post
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