Meet the Hector’s Dolphin – the only dolphin native to New Zealand; named after Sir James Hector, a scientist from New Zealand who pioneered the species’ study.
These coastal dolphins display unique coloring with a gray band across the middle of their body, and black markings around their snout, eyes, and flippers. Plus, a distinct rounded dorsal fin. Unfortunately, there are only about 7,000 of these special creatures left.
Dolphins are known to be highly intelligent and playful. In fact, they are one of the most intelligent animals on our planet. Hector’s Dolphins are no exception. They’ve been observed to partake in amusing activities – from surfing the waves created by boats and ships, to playing with seaweed.
Unlike other dolphin species, Hector’s dolphins communicate a bit differently. Rather than using whistles, they vocalize only through short and high-frequency clicks.
Sadly, living close to the shore comes with its dangers. Some of the greatest threats to Hector’s Dolphins are boating strikes and by-catch. Hector’s Dolphins become entrapped by fishing nets, particularly gillnets, where they are unable to surface for air.
Although restrictions on gillnet fishing have increased over time, they do not cover the Hector’s Dolphin’s entire habitat. The species’ numbers have gradually declined, and are expected to continue doing so, unless serious efforts are made towards their protection.
You can help by practicing conscientious boating. Take action by voicing your concerns – to Fisheries Management organizations – about gillnet fishing, and establishing a protected habitat for Hector’s Dolphins.