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Hector's Dolphin Facts and Photos on the World's Most Endangered Dolphin

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The Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, is the world’s smallest dolphin, and  is only found off the coast of New Zealand. They are also one of the rarest dolphin. Of the two separate sub-species, North Island Hector’s dolphin (also known an Maui’s) has only 110 known individuals and is the rarest and most endangered marine mammal. The South Island Hector’s dolphin has around 8,000 animals known to be alive.

Hector’s dolphin are very small, growing only to about four feet long. They have black head, flippers, dorsal fin and tail. The belly is white and the rest of the body is grey, with a black mask around the eyes. They also have a distinctive rounded dorsal fin, a stocky body, and a sloping head that does not have a beak like many other dolphin.

Named after Sir James Hector, curator of the Museum of New Zealand in the late 1800’s, the Hector’s dolphin feds on fish and other sea life found on the sandy bottom of shallow, coastal water, using echo location to find their prey.

Hector’s dolphin live to about 20 years old, and are sexually mature at between six and nine years. Females produce a single calf around two and a half feet long, and calve every two to four years.

Bycatch in gillnets has drastically reduced the population of Hector’s dolphin, sometimes killing 150 dolphin a year, which is an impossibly unsustainable level. Marine Protected Areas have been established where gillnetting is either against the law or subject to seasonal limits. However, the population continues to decline due to bycatch outside of these protected areas.

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Picture of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 082239

Stock photo of dorsal fin of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 010643

Image of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 010639

Photo of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, small pods are resident around muddy river mouths and secluded bays, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 009090

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Picture of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Kaikoura, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 005409

Stock photo of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, exhales while porpoising at the surface, Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealan, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 035217

Image of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, slapping the water with its tail flukes, Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 035220

Photo of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, blowing, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific

Picture #: 028190

picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin

Picture of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Kaikoura, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean.

Picture #: 010641

Stock photo of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 035226

Image of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori,Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 010517

Illustration of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, endemic to New Zealand

Picture #: 010638

picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin

Picture of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean.

Picture #: 082236

Stock photo of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 010853

Image of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, leaping, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 010642

Photo of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, jumping or porpoising out of the water, Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 035219

picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin picture of a Hector's dolphin

Picture of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Kaikoura, New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean.

Picture #: 010834

Stock photo of Hector's dolphin, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 082242

Illustration of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, endemic to New Zealand

Picture #: 108964

Photo of Hector's dolphins, Cephalorhynchus hectori, Kaikoura, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean

Picture #: 014539

 

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