Let's Face It
The campaign to save the planet's most critically endangered dolphin species received a surge of support last month as two of action sports' busiest environmental activists joined forces in New Zealand.
Billabong free-surfer Dave Rastovich and Dogtown skate legend Peggy Oki drew the proverbial line in the sand as the Maui's dolphin teeters on the brink of extinction -- a recent study says there are just 55 adults remaining -- calling on New Zealand's government to protect the marine cetacean's remaining habitat.
Dolphin deaths in fishing nets is the most serious impact on the Maui's, a subspecies of the critically endangered Hector's dolphin, according to information from the New Zealand's Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries.
"It's great seeing Dave at that level of fame and sponsorship, helping out this way," says Oki, who recently headed up an effort to create banners from dolphin supporters' "visual petitions," photographic pleas to the New Zealand government uploaded to the campaign's "Let's Face It" website. These banners were presented on April 2 to government officials now weighing public input on the plight of the dolphins. Public comment on a proposed management plan closes April 11.
"The best thing would be for the New Zealand government to make a decision to truly become a green country and designate all known Maui's and Hector's habitat as special reserves," says Oki, a California native and 2012 Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductee who has been visiting the island nation since her first surf trip there in 1980.
"Saving this species is a race against time," says New Zealander and world champion free-diver William Trubrigde. "Instead of defending this beautiful species, the current government has caved in to the fishing industry and further reduced their protection."
Rastovich did not respond to interview questions sent via email. Oki told ESPN.com that the Australian regular-footer spent five days working on the campaign, screening his "Minds in the Water" documentary, and joining a silent protest march against seabed mining off New Zealand's coast.
In other news from Oki's camp, her Origami Whales Project, founded in 2004, has expanded outreach and cetacean educational programs from the United States to Japan, Dominica, and New Zealand. She has also launched a public speaking tour; her next appearance is on April 22 at George Mason University in Washington, D.C.