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Cephalorhynchus hectori hectori
One of the smallest ocean dolphins with males at 1.2m long and females slightly larger at 1.4m. Weighing in around the 40-60kg mark. Generally grey body with black fins, tail and cheeks and white striping along flanks. The ventral surface is basically white with a black 'V' coming back from the tail and a black anal patch. The most characteristic feature however is their short rounded dorsal fin and flippers.
Found only in the South Island of New Zealand in coastal and estuarine habitats in generally murky water. They feed on shallow water/bottom living fish, cuttlefish, shrimp and other small crustaceans. Although small in size this species has to feed constantly to maintain its metabolic rate. This small pod was spotted in Akaroa Harbour, just east of Christchurch in New Zealand South Island.
This endangered species is very prone to getting entangled in set nets, commonly placed in NZ harbours and will drown in 4 minutes if caught. There is only an estimated 7,000 of these dolphins left on the planet and although the New Zealand Government has created marine reserves the population is still in decline albeit at a slower rate. Females become sexually mature between 7-9 years old and reproduce with a single calf every 2-3 years. They live to about 20 years old so any recovery in numbers is going to be slow! The last image shows a mother with a very small calf.
Spotted on Feb 3, 2016
Submitted on Feb 4, 2016
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