Hector’s dolphin was named after James Hector who is believed to be the first person to have thoroughly examined this species.
Unfortunately due to pollution, boating and other activities over the past 30 – 40 years these dolphins have reduced significantly in terms of overall population from around 26,000 to less than 14,000.
These dolphins grow can grow up to 4.9 ft. long making them one of the smallest cetacean species in existence.
In terms of weight the largest dolphins can weigh in around 130 pounds.
They have stocky bodies and a uniquely prominent rounded dorsal fin.
Most of the dolphins body is a light gray color with the flippers, flukes and dorsal fin being a dark grey to black color.
The stomach and throat areas are milky white.
Their diet is believed to be more influenced by how large their prey is rather than what type of prey it is.
These dolphins often prefer to travel in small groups of up to 5, although they can be seen in pods of 20 or more during mating periods.
They communicate using a combination of clicks and whistles and interact in a variety of ways including leaping out of the water, chasing each other, blowing bubbles and playing with seaweed.
They are also a very curious species and are known to approach and swim near boats.
The average gestation period for hector’s dolphin is 10 – 11 months and mating typically occurs during the summer months.
These dolphins generally reach sexual maturity between the ages of 5 – 9 with females maturing about a year later than then the males.
Females are believed to give birth every 2 – 4 years.
Mothers nurse their young by feeding them milk for up to 18 months until their child is able to hunt and survive on its own.
The average lifespan for these dolphins is estimated to be between 20 – 25 years.
10 Important Hector’s dolphin facts
- Hector’s dolphin is a marine mammal which means it breathes air, gives birth to live children, produces milk and is a warm-blooded animal.
- The scientific name for Hector’s dolphin is, “Cephalorhynchus hectori”.
- This marine mammal uses echolocation to search for food and navigate the ocean at night or when swimming in locations that have little to no light.
- These dolphins are a protected species and hunting them could lead to fines and/or jail time.
- Hector’s dolphin makes up one of around 80 known species of cetacea and one of around 40 known dolphin species.
- Aside from Maui’s dolphin this marine mammal is one of the smallest recorded species of cetacea. In fact some researchers consider this to be the smallest cetacean while others consider Maui’s dolphin to be the smallest.
- At birth Hector’s dolphin weighs a mere 20 lbs. on average which is significantly less than most dolphin species. In contrast the killer whale (the largest of the dolphin species) weighs around 400 lbs. at birth.
- Natural predators of Hector’s dolphin include sharks and killer whales.
- These marine mammals are known as conscious sleepers which means they are always aware of their need for oxygen and never fall completely asleep because they could drown if they don’t remain conscious.
- As a species dolphins are extremely intelligent and are able to perform acrobatic feats and complete complex tasks when properly trained. In fact dolphins are one of the most intelligent animals known to mankind aside from chimpanzees, apes and elephants.