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KORI’s Hector’s dolphin project aims to research and protect Kaikōura’s Hector’s dolphins.

The Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori), the smallest of our dolphin species, is only found in New Zealand. It is classified Endangered Nationally by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, and Internationally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Due to low reproductive rate and small numbers, even a few casualties due to accidental by-catch can be very detrimental to Hector’s populations.

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Our Work

Starting in January 2013, K.O.R.I began a focused study of the Hector’s dolphins in the Kaikōura area.

Since then we have had over 350 encounters with Hector’s dolphins, and using photographic dorsal fin identification we have determined that Kaikōura is home to roughly 300 members of this species.

We have continued our boat-based coastal surveys, photographing dolphins to the North and South of the Kaikōura peninsula, and trying to learn more about their habitat and behaviours. Read more about the progress of these surveys!

We hope that our work will give both researchers and the local community a better understanding of the Hector’s dolphins living in our area.

Take a look at our ‘Top Fins’ – you can use this on your phone or print it out to use when you go dolphin spotting!

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How You Can Help

We have taken the information from these surveys and created a Hector’s dolphin database that can be viewed, and added to, online by interested members of the community.

This project is phase one of a larger project to catalogue different species of dolphins frequently seen in the Kaikōura area.

By adding your sightings to our database you help us track known individuals, as well as potentially introducing us to new Hector’s dolphins.

Spotted a Hector’s dolphin? Let us know!