Wednesday, July 23, 2003
We went out into the North Bay looking for Hector's dolphins today. Hector's are the world's smallest dolphin. They are also very endangered. They live only in New Zealand and it is believed that there are only a few thousand left. They like to hang out in murky water, especially near river mouths. Sometimes they even go up into the rivers. Murky water provides them protection from predators. Unfortunately, being around river mouths also results in high levels of accumulation of toxic chemicals in their blubber from feeding on benthic fish that take in toxins flowing from upstream. Most Hector's are found on the South Island, especially off the Banks Peninsula east of Christchurch, in Kaikoura, and places on the west coast.
It was a real treat to see these small dolphins with their rounded dorsal fin that resembles one of Mickey Mouse's ears. They did some bow surfing with us and even showed us a leap! We played around with them for a while and the wind started coming up. Dolphin Encounter, over the radio, advised us against going out, so we were back at the harbor by 11:30.