Hector’s (and Māui) dolphinsHe tutumairekurai (me he popoto)

Hector’s dolphin
Cephalorhynchus hectori

Tiniest marine dolphin

Hector’s dolphin is just 1.5 metres long. You can recognise them by their curved ‘Mickey Mouse ear’ dorsal fin.

Hector's dolphins, Cloudy Bay, 2012. Photo by Anjanette Baker/Oregon State University and University of Auckland, via Wikimedia. CC BY 4.0

They’re the only dolphin unique to Aotearoa.

Hector’s dolphin skull. Te Papa (MM001960)

Hector’s and its subspecies, the Māui dolphin, live close to shore. They’re easily caught in nylon set nets.

Māui numbers are dangerously low – they’re the world’s rarest aihe. Around 60 are left, all on the North Island’s west coast.

Hector’s (here) and Māui dolphins face many threats, including being caught in fishing nets and hit by boats. Photographer unknown. Photo supplied by Department of Conservation

The range of these dolphins

Illustration of distribution of Hector's and Maui dolphin. Te Papa