Hector's dolphins

Marine scientist Will Rayment took this wonderful shot of a Hector's dolphin jumping out of the water.
© Will Rayment

An overview

Hector's dolphins take their name from 19th century New Zealand zoologist, Sir James Hector, considered the founding father of Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum.

Their fragile status was first recognised by the New Zealand government in 1999 when they were named a ‘threatened species’.

Hector's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) are found all around New Zealand's South Island. They are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and classified as "Nationally Critical" under the Department of Conservation's Threat Classification System.

There are about 15,000 Hector's dolphins today, made up of unique sub-populations, like communities or hapū, that are genetically and geographically distinct. They face multiple threats including being entangled and dying in fishing nets, seismic surveying, and land based pollution including the disease toxoplasmosis - a parasite that comes from cat faeces and ends up in the marine environment.

© Department of Conservation
Hector's dolphin
© Department of Conservation