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April 21, 2018  |  Login

Hector’s Dolphin
Cephalorhynchus hectori

What Are They Like?

Hector’s dolphins are grey, with black flippers, fins and tails and white undersides. Relatively small, they measure 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 meters) in length and can weigh up to 125 pounds (57 kilograms). Hector’s Dolphins are characterized by a round dorsal fin and a smooth snout that does not taper into a beak.

Where Do They Live?

Hector's dolphins are limited to coastal New Zealand. They stick to shallow waters within 9 miles (15 kilometers) of the shore and less than 330 feet (100 meters) deep.

Did You Know?
Hector's dolphins live only in the coastal waters of New Zealand. They have round dorsal fins.

How Are Babies Made?

Hector's dolphins reach sexual maturity between the ages of six and nine. Their courtship rituals include elaborate displays; calves are usually born in the late spring or early summer.

What Do They Eat?

Hector's dolphins feed at various depths, mostly on small fish and squid.


What Do They Do?

Like other members of their species, Hector's dolphins are very active and sociable. They form small schools of up to five, and spend time playing with seaweed, blowing bubbles, chasing each other and flipper-slapping. They also emit complex clicks that are thought to be their way of communicating with each other.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists Hector's dolphin as "endangered." The population is estimated to have declined over 50% in three generations; currently, about 7,000 individuals survive in the world. They have a limited range relative to other dolphins, since they only exist in New Zealand's coastal waters.

What's Being Done?

Major threats to the Hector's dolphin population are pollution and entanglement in fishing nets. To address these problems, the New Zealand government has created two protected areas and is working to come up with a more comprehensive plan.


Hector's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori)

New Zealand Hector’s Dolphins, What a Life

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