Hector's Dolphin
Cephalorhynchus hectori

Other Names: Little Pied Dolphin, New Zealand Dolphin, New Zealand White-front Dolphin

Habitat: Inshore

Status: Endangered

Population: 3,000 - 4,000

Threats: Entanglement in fishing net, human disturbance, and pollution

Group Size: 2-8, loose aggregations of 100 ore more in some areas

Fin Position: Slightly behind center

Newborns: 24-30 in (60-75 cm), c.20 lbs. (9 kg)

Adults: 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m)

Diet: Fish, squid or octopus, and occasionally krill or other crustaceans

Teeth: 52 to 64 on both top and bottom rows


Dorsal fin:

- black or dark gray
- rounded dorsal fin leans backward
- convex trailing edge


- broad, dark flukes
- distinctly concave trailing edges
- slight notch in middle
- pointed tips


- small white patch behind each flipper
- large, dark, rounded flippers


- gray forehead thinly streaked with black
- tip of indistinct beak black
- white throat and chest
- dark patch from eye area to flipper

Other characteristics:

- light gray sides and beak
- short, stocky body, but narrow tail stock
- white, finger-shaped lobe points toward tail
- white belly with dark border


- rarely bow-rides, but frequently swims in the wake of passing boats; may also swim alongside boats for short distances
- it prefers stationary or slow vessels (less than 10 knots) and will dive to avoid faster ones
- inquisitive
- sometimes breaches (usually re-entering the water without a splash) and may lobtail, spyhop, and surf
- surfaces frequently to breathe, showing little of itself and, especially on calm days, barely making a splash
- may rest motionless at the surface
- groups rarely stay in tight formation, though several individuals may swim and surface together in a row
- most active when small groups join together


- coastal waters of New Zealand, especially South Island and the western coast of North Island
- lives exclusively around New Zealand
- most common around South Island, particularly Banks Peninsula and Cloudy Bay, and along the western coast of North Island, mainly between Kawhia and Manukau Harbor
- tends to be abundant in patches and is absent from some areas within the range
- may make small movements inshore in summer and offshore in winter
- best place to look is in shallow water, along rocks close to the shore
- may enter estuaries, and known to swim short distances up river
- usually within 5/8 mile (1 km) of the shoreline and rarely farther than 5 miles (8 km)
- earlier reports from Australia and Sarawak, Malaysia, were incorrectly identified

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet