~ Hector's Dolphin ~

Hector's dolphin is New Zealand's very own dolphin! Hector's dolphin is one of the smallest cetaceans, at only 4 and 1/2 feet long. It has a complex color pattern of gray, black, and white. Their bodies are very stout.

Moving in groups of 2 to 8 animals in the waters off New Zealand, they surface often to breathe. Hector's dolphins are very different in appearence from other dolphins and because of their low profile, small size, and different look they are easy to miss. The best way to identify them is by their characteristic rounded dorsal fin.

These dolphins live in muddy river mouths and shallow bays, swimming near rocks close to the shoreline. They rarely venture more than 5 miles from land. Hector's dolphins breach, lobtail, spyhop, and engage in most of the dolphin play known by watchers, but they seldom bow ride boats.

The best places to see Hector's dolphins is around the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand's South Island and various ports on the South and North islands, including the whale-watching port of Kaikoura.

In the past, Hector's dolphins were caught and used as bait. Currently they are trapped accidentally in trawls and gill nets. Some parts of their habitat have been protected, but to save this declining species, more areas around New Zealand will have to be declared no-go zones for coastal gill nets.


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