Hector's & Maui's Dolphins: Ecology

Genetics, behaviour and their limited distribution set apart Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins apart from all other dolphin species.

Hector’s and Maui’s are the only dolphins in the world with a rounded dorsal fin. They also have distinctive black markings on their fins, tails, flippers and faces. While common dolphins grow to about 2.6m in length, our Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins typically reach between 1.2 – 1.6 meters. They are so small you could fit them into a bathtub.

It takes a long time for their populations to rebuild. Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins live for up to 20 years and are incredibly slow breeders. They only produce one calf every 2 to 4 years and do not start breeding until they are about 7 to 9 years old.

Hector’s and Maui’s also prefer shallower water of less than 100 metres deep, which makes them particularly vulnerable to deaths caused by human activities such as fishing.