Look out for Māui and Hector’s dolphins around report any sightings immediately.

Rounded fin? Send it in!
Māui and Hector's dolphins are the only dolphins in New Zealand with rounded fins that look like Mickey Mouse’s ear.

Tell us if you see a Māui or Hector’s dolphin

If you think you’ve seen a Māui or Hector’s dolphin, report it using one of these options:  

North Island and upper South Island sightings

We’re especially interested in sightings around the North Island and in Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and on the West Coast north of Karamea.

Map of areas to report sightings (PDF, 1,980K)

If your sighting is in this area, we may contact you immediately to come and attempt to collect a small tissue sample for DNA analysis.

South Island sightings

If you’re in the lower South Island, we’d like to hear about sightings, but we are unlikely to try to collect a tissue sample.

What we want to know

Record and send in as much information as possible:

  • the date, time and location – ideally GPS coordinates
  • the number of dolphins and their estimated size
  • take and include photographs or video whenever possible.

Information from sightings

Sightings inform where dolphins needs protection

We need people to report sightings of Māui and Hector’s dolphin from the beach or on the water. This information helps to better understand where they live and therefore where they need protection. Sightings made by the public in the past have helped to inform where protected areas should be located.

Details are important

The more information you can provide with a sighting, the more reliable and useful it will be. If dolphin sightings are used for scientific purposes or for making new laws for conservation, they have to be checked carefully and confirmed as legitimate. A detailed sighting with photos or video provides the best evidence.  

Reports of dead dolphins are valuable

Reports of dead Hector’s or Māui dolphin are also very important. The animals could be dead on a beach or floating at sea, and the sooner you can make the report, the better. While it can be upsetting, detailed reports and photographs of dead animals provide opportunities to collect information that can help understand why the animal died. This contributes to better knowledge about the threats they face.

DNA tests can identify individual dolphins

The results of DNA tests using tissue samples can be used to find out if a dolphin is Hector’s or Maui and if the individual dolphin has been sighted before. This provides important information about where dolphins travel.

Database of all Māui and Hector’s dolphin sightings

All sightings of Māui and Hector’s dolphins from 1970 to today are recorded in a database. The information is publicly available and updated about every 3 months.

Database of all Māui and Hector’s dolphin sightings.


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