Loading

Hectors Dolphin Aotearoa's Endemic Dolphin

Hector’s dolphins are among the world’s smallest marine dolphins, growing to around 1.5m in length

They are Endemic to Aotearoa which means they are found only in the inshore waters of Aotearoa

Their bodies are a distinctive grey, with white and black markings, a short snout and they are the only dolphins in Aotearoa with a rounded fin

Two sub-species of Hector’s dolphins exist: the Hector’s dolphin which is found around the South Island of New Zealand, and the Māui dolphin which is found off the west coast of the North Island

Hector’s and Māui dolphin are known to Māori by other names, including tutumairekurai, aihe, papakanua, upokohue, tukuperu, tūpoupou, pahu, pōpoto and hopuhopu

Like other dolphins, Hector’s use echolocation to find their food. They send out high frequency ‘clicks’ that bounce off surrounding objects and fish, giving the dolphins a detailed picture of their surroundings. This sonar is not used all the time, which may be one of the reasons why the dolphins get caught in nets

Most females only have four or five calves in a lifetime. Calving usually occurs between November and mid-February, and calves stay with their mothers for up to two years

Set net fishing poses a major threat to Hector’s and Māui dolphin

Like all marine mammals they need to come to the surface regularly to breathe. If they become tangled in set nets, they will hold their breath until they suffocate

There are only 15,000 Hector's Dolphins left which makes them a vulnerable species

The sub species, Māui dolphin, is critically endangered with around 63 adults left. Since the 1970's, when gill nets were introduced, 90% of the population has been decimated

Māui Dolphin also are threatened by fossil fuel and oil exploration, disease, boat strikes, mining, noise and tourism

Another great video shot by Nathan Pettigrew- the Marine Life Kayaker.

How can you help? Make sure you don't eat fish caught by nets and let your friends know!

Activity Time!

Check out this cool anatomy game! Click on the titles to learn more about the anatomy of a Dolphin

Click the button to play

You may need to enable Flash player- get a parent to help you with this