Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Napier had a surprise visitor on the weekend – an endangered Hector’s dolphin.

Date:  12 December 2017

Endemic to New Zealand, this tiny marine mammal travelled a fair way from home to enjoy our warm weather – usually Hector’s dolphins are found around the coast of the South Island.

Swimming solo on Sunday evening at around 8 pm, the easily recognisable dolphin with its rounded dorsal fin and black and white markings was noticed off the coast of Bay View.

The sighting was reported via the Hector’s Dolphin Sightings App, which is available for both Apple and Android phones.

Hector’s dolphins have faced a population decline for many years, with Department of Conservation Hawke’s Bay Operations Manager Connie Norgate saying that set net fishing poses a major threat.

“Like all marine mammals they need to come to the surface regularly to breathe,” she says. “If they become tangled in set nets, they can drown.

“Because these dolphins often appear in bays and harbours, they are at risk of being injured by boats.”

She says new-born dolphins are particularly vulnerable as they swim relatively slowly, close to the surface.

“Some have been killed by boat propellers when unwary boaties have run them over,” says Ms Norgate.

She says it is so important to officially report sightings such as this one as it will provide evidence to make the best decisions for Hector’s dolphin conservation.

“We need beachgoers and boaties to report sightings, so we can better understand where these dolphins live,” says Ms Norgate.

She says Hector’s dolphins are particularly social, so Hawke’s Bay could be hosting a few more of these special creatures.

So if you think you’ve seen a Hector’s dolphin, report it straight away to our emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or you can download the Hector’s dolphin sightings app online at

If you have spotted a Māui or Hector’s dolphin in Hawke's Bay, DOC staff might contact you via phone or radio, and may attempt to collect a genetic sample on arrival.

Record the details and include as much information as possible including the date, time and location (GPS coordinates if possible), the number of dolphins and estimated sizes, the direction they were travelling, and take photographs or video if possible.


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