Cephalorhynchus hectori Carnivore Diurnal Status: Endangered
Found only around the South Island of New Zealand, the diminutive Hector’s dolphin was named for Sir James Hector, who was the curator of what is now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Only 1.5 meters in maximum length, Hector’s dolphins have a unique and characteristic rounded dorsal fin and complex colouration of black, cream, and shades of grey.
Living not much longer than 20 years, females are usually at least seven years old when they have their first calves, which are spaced from two to four years apart. This slow natural population growth, coupled with the threat of their being caught in commercial gillnets, means that today there are likely fewer than 8000 of these dolphins in the wild. Maui’s dolphin, a North Island subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin, is even more critically endangered, with barely more than 100 remaining.
Photo courtesy of Steve Dawson.