Hectors Dolphin

Hectors Dolphin photo by Avenue

Hectors Dolphin

Hector’s dolphin  is one of four dolphin species belonging to the genus Cephalorhynchus. Hector’s dolphin is the only cetacean endemic to New Zealand, and comprises two subspecies: C. h. hectori, the more numerous subspecies, also referred to as South Island Hector’s dolphin; and the critically endangered Māui dolphin (C. h. maui), found off the West Coast of the North Island.

It is the smallest dolphin species with adults length between 1.2 and 1.6m. The species’ range includes murky coastal waters out to 100 m (330 ft) depth, though almost all sightings are in waters shallower than 50 m (160 ft). Hector’s dolphins display a seasonal inshore-offshore movement; favouring shallow coastal waters during spring and summer, and moving offshore into deeper waters during autumn and winter. They have also been shown to return to the same location during consecutive summers, displaying high foraging site fidelity. The inshore-offshore movement of Hector’s dolphins are thought to relate to seasonal patterns of turbidity and the inshore movements of prey species during spring and summer.

There are 2 subspecies,

  • South Island Hectors dolphin – Threatened, and with a decreasing population, currently thought to number around 10,000
  •  Maui dolphin – critically endangered, population under 50.
These diverged 50,000-60,000

Below, you will see a list of articles on this subject, and below that, you will see a video on this species

Below both of these, we will add links and information (as we get it) so that you can see these dolphins if you are in the area.

Hourglass dolphin

Hourglass dolphin

The hourglass dolphin  is a small dolphin in the family Delphinidae that inhabits offshore Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. It is commonly seen from ships crossing the Drake Passage, but has a circumpolar distribution.

The species was identified as a new species by Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard in 1824 from a drawing made in the South Pacific in 1820. It is the only to have been widely accepted as a species solely on witness accounts.

Sighting surveys were conducted in 1976–77 and 1987–88. Abundance was estimated to be 144,300 individuals, based on line transect sightings in January 1977 and January 1988 in northern Antarctic waters. This is the only abundance estimate of hourglass dolphins to date.

It is currently listed as least concern on the IUCN red list.

Below you will find a video of the species, and below this a list of any articles that have (or will be) written on this species. Under this, we will over time, hope to add links which will help you see this animal in the wild.

Dusky Dolphin

Dusky dolphin by AllenMoC

Dusky Dolphin

 

The dusky dolphin is a dolphin found in coastal waters in the Southern Hemisphere. Its specific epithet is Latin for “dark” or “dim”. It is a close relation of the Pacific white-sided dolphin, but current scientific consensus holds they are distinct species. The dolphin’s range is patchy, with major populations around South America, southwestern Africa, New Zealand, and various oceanic islands, with some sightings around southern Australia and Tasmania. The dusky dolphin prefers cool currents and inshore waters, but can also be found offshore. It feeds on a variety of fish and squid species and has flexible hunting tactics. The dusky dolphin is known for its remarkable acrobatics, having a number of aerial behaviours. The status of the dolphin is unknown, but it has been commonly caught in gill nets.

There is a sizable tourism industry around this species and others found in the same area.

Below is a list of any times this species is mentioned in the website, and below that is a video of this speices. Under both of these, I will list any links which will give you the chance to see this species yourself, and to help support its continual exinstance.

Common Dolphin

Common Dolphin

  • The most abundant cetacean in the world, with around 6 million (it should be noted that there are 1350 humans in the world, for every individual common dolphin).

Despite this fact and its name, the common dolphin is not thought of as the model dolphin (that honour goes to the bottlenose dolphin due to its popular appearances in aquaria and the media). It did, however, feature heavily in Ancient Greek and Roman art and culture, most notably in a mural painted by the Greek Minoan civilization.

It is currently the only member of the genus Delphinus. The common dolphin belongs to the subfamily Delphininae, making this dolphin closely related to the three different species of bottlenose dolphins, humpback dolphins, striped dolphins, spinner dolphins, clymene dolphin, spotted dolphins, fraser’s dolphin and the tucuxi and guiana dolphin.[5] The common dolphin was originally categorized into two different species (now thought to be ecotypes), the short-beaked common dolphin and the long-beaked common dolphin. However, recent evidence has shown that generally long-beaked dolphins of this species have originated from the short-beaked population, and therefore there is no close links between different long-beaked dolphins in any part of the world.

Currently, the common dolphin is divided into four subspecies:

  • D. d. delphis, the nominate subspecies
  • D. d. bairdii, the Eastern North Pacific long-beaked common dolphin
  • D. d. ponticus, the Black Sea common dolphin
  • D. d. tropicalis, the Indo-Pacific common dolphin

A number of fossils were erroneously placed in the same genus, but this has since been corrected. 

Common dolphins can live in aggregations of hundreds or even thousands of dolphins,though are often seen in groups numbering several hundred individuals (with subgroups consisting of 20-30 individuals). Occasionally, different groups will come together to form mega-pods which can consist of over 10,000 dolphins – quite a site to witness. Genetic studies in the Northeast Atlantic suggest that common dolphin pods generally do not consist of close kin, but rather of members that are not closely related. Unlike many delphinids, common dolphins do not live in a matriarchal society. That being said, closely related individuals are usually found in similar geographical locations fairly consistently, providing evidence that this species displays site fidelity (at least in the North-eastern Atlantic). Male common dolphins display greater site fidelity in relation to their kin than females.

Common dolphin pod structure often consists of nursery pods (which includes females and calves), bachelor pods (consisting of all males) and mixed groups of males and females, including sub-adults and calves. Genetic evidence seems to indicate that common dolphins live in fission-fusion societies, where dolphins form pods that are not necessarily stable and do not necessarily consist of related individuals. It is not known if common dolphins form lifelong bonds with other individuals  like the long-term male alliances seen in bottlenose dolphins.

There is some evidence that common dolphins use signature whistles, similar to that of the bottlenose dolphin. These whistles are believed to serve as an acoustic label the dolphin equivalent of a name.  It takes approximately 1 year for a calf to learn its signature whistle after which it remains stable for the rest of a dolphin’s life.

In South Africa, as many as 29 common dolphin signature whistle types were detected. However, it was difficult to determine if each dolphin had its own signature whistle due to the vast number of dolphins present (over 1,000) and anthropogenic background noise. Additionally, considering the vast number of dolphins present and  taking into account their feeding and diving behaviour, it appears that common dolphin signature whistles are also used for group cohesion. Another hypothesis for the function of signature whistles, is that they serve as a beacon for lost individuals.

Common dolphins sometimes associate with other dolphin species, such as pilot whales (note, not actually whales). In the Gulf of Corinth, common dolphins frequently display mixed species association, especially with striped and Rissos’ dolphins. Over one third of all dolphin sightings in the gulf consisted of mixed species associations that partially consisted of common dolphins. In mixed species associations, the ratio of striped to common dolphins ranged from 6-11:1. When Rissos’ dolphins were present (there would usually be only one or two individuals), it appeared that much of their scars were the result of interactions between striped and spinner dolphins. In much of the interactions, the Rissos’ dolphins would chase and herd the common dolphins toward the boat, while the common dolphins would try and swim under the Rissos’ dolphin. When groups of common and striped dolphins would charge at each other, the Rissos’ dolphin would chase the striped dolphins. Sometimes these interactions appeared to be playful, and at other times aggressive. Synchronized swimming and surfacing was commonly observed. These interactions take place in the deepest part of the Gulf, furthest from shore and usually consist of a total of 60 dolphins from all three species.

There have been 15 cases of common dolphin and striped dolphin hybrids being recorded. Genetic and observational evidence has demonstrated that the hybrids are fertile and are capable of not only reproducing with other hybrids, but are capable of reproducing with each of the parent species. Striped dolphins have been known to mate with other dolphins, as the Clymene dolphin is the result of hybrid speciation between striped and spinner dolphins. However, this is unlikely to happen with common dolphins, as their population in the Gulf of Corinth is too low. Common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins have been known to interbreed in captivity. There is one confirmed case of a hybrid between a bottlenose and common dolphin in Southern Spain, an important feeding ground for both species. The mother was a female bottlenose dolphin (dubbed as Billie) who has spent 10 years within a common dolphin pod. Billie was observed assisting common calves reach the surface at three different intervals and would babysit the calves after the mother went through labour. They have also been observed bow riding on baleen whales, and they also bow ride on boats. They are fast swimmers and breaching behaviour and aerial acrobatics are common with this species. They are also known to display altruistic behaviours to support injured members.

The short-beaked common dolphin is pregnant for 10 to 11 months. The new-born calf has a length of 70 to 100 centimetres (2.3 to 3.3 ft) and weighs about 10 kilograms. For the Black Sea population, weaning occurs at between five and six months, but occurs later (up to about 19 months) in other areas. Typical interbirth interval ranges from one year for the Black Sea population to three years for eastern Pacific Ocean populations. Age of sexual maturity also varies by location, but can range between two and seven years for females and three and 12 years for males. No evidence exists of any major reproductive differences between the two species. In captivity, the long-beaked common dolphin has hybridized with the common bottlenose dolphin . One of the hybrids has been bred back to a bottlenose dolphin, demonstrating such hybrids are fertile.

Find our news section below this video of a megapod of common dolphins

Striped Dolphin

Striped Dolphin

The striped dolphin (sometimes called the Euphrosyne dolphin) has been heavily researched and is found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. It has (until recently been included in the genus Stenella, but it has been shown to actually be an oceanic dolphin. According to a recent study, the closest relatives of the striped dolphin are the Clymene dolphin, the common dolphins, the Atlantic spotted dolphin, and “Tursiops” aduncus, which was formerly considered a subspecies of the common bottlenose dolphin. The striped dolphin was described by Franz Meyen in 1833.

A striped dolphin leaps in the Mediterranean Sea off Toulon

The striped dolphin has a similar size and shape to several other dolphins that inhabit the waters it does (see pantropical spotted dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin, Clymene dolphin). However, its colouring is very different and makes it relatively easy to notice at sea. The underside is blue, white, or pink. One or two black bands circle the eyes, and then run across the back, to the flipper. These bands widen to the width of the flipper which are the same size. Two further black stripes run from behind the ear — one is short and ends just above the flipper. The other is longer and thickens along the flanks until it curves down under the belly just prior to the tail stock. Above these stripes, the dolphin’s flanks are coloured light blue or grey. All appendages are black, as well. At birth, individuals weigh about 10 kg (22 lb) and are up to a meter (3 feet) long. By adulthood, they have grown to 2.4 m (8 ft) (females) or 2.6 m (8.5 ft) (males) and weigh 150 kg (330 lb) (female) or 160 kg (352 lb) (male). Research suggested sexual maturity was reached at 12 years in Mediterranean females and in the Pacific at between seven and 9 years. Longevity is about 55–60 years. Gestation lasts about 12 months, with a three- or four-year gap between calving.

In common with other dolphins in its genus, the striped dolphin moves in large groups — usually up to thousands of individuals in number. Groups may be smaller in the Mediterranean and Atlantic. They may also mix with common dolphins. The striped dolphin is as capable as any dolphin at performing acrobatics — frequently breaching and jumping far above the surface of the water. Sometimes, it approaches boats in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, but this is dramatically less common in other areas, particularly in the Pacific, where it has been heavily exploited in the past. Striped dolphins are known as “streakers” throughout the eastern tropical Pacific due to their behavior of rapidly swimming away from vessels to avoid collisions.

The striped dolphin feeds on small pelagic fish and squid.

Striped dolphins jumping in the Gulf of Corinth

The striped dolphin inhabits temperate or tropical, off-shore waters. It is found in abundance in the North and South Atlantic Oceans, including the Mediterranean (sightings and strandings have been reported rather recently in Sea of Marmara[6]) and Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Roughly speaking, it occupies a range running from 40°N to 30°S. It has been found in water temperatures ranging from 10 to 26 °C, though the standard range is 18-22 °C. In the western Pacific, where the species has been extensively studied, a distinctive migration pattern has been identified. This has not been the case in other areas. The dolphin appears to be common in all areas of its range, though that may not be continuous; areas of low population density do exist. The total population is in excess of two million. The southernmost record is of a stranded individual nearby Dunedin, southern New Zealand in 2017.[7]

Japanese whalers have hunted striped dolphins in the western Pacific since at least the 1940s. In the heyday of “striped dolphin drives”, at least 8,000 to 9,000 individuals were killed each year, and in one exceptional year, 21,000 individuals were killed, though since the 1980s, following the introduction of quotas, this number has fallen to around 1,000 kills per year. Conservationists are concerned about the Mediterranean population which is threatened by pollution, disease, busy shipping lanes, and heavy incidental catches in fishing nets such as long-liners, trawlers, gill nets, trammel and purse seine nets. . Recent threats include military sonar, and chemical pollution from near by harbours. Hydrocarbons are also a major concern such has PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and HCB (hexachlorobenzene). These are said to give problems to additional food chains as well as doing a full body test to see what hydrocarbons may be passed down through parturition and lactation. Attempts have been made to keep the striped dolphin in captivity, but most have failed, with the exception of a few captured in Japan for the Taiji Whale Museum.

Striped dolphins are one of the targeted species in the Taiji dolphin drive hunt.

The adult striped dolphin eats fish, squid, octopus, krill, and other crustaceans. Mediterranean striped dolphins seem to prey primarily on cephalopods (50-100% of stomach contents), while north-eastern Atlantic striped dolphins most often prey on fish, frequently cod. They mainly feed on cephalopods, crustaceans, and bony fishes. They feed anywhere within the water column where prey is concentrated, and they can dive to depths of 700 m to hunt deeper-dwelling species.

 

Small numbers of dolphins live nearby Gijón

The eastern tropical Pacific and Mediterranean populations of the striped dolphin are listed on Appendix II  of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), since they have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organized by tailored agreements.[9]

On the IUCN Red List the striped dolphin classifies as vulnerable due to a 30% reduction in its subpopulation over the last three generations. These dolphins may also be an indicator species for long term monitoring of heavy metal accumulation in the marine environment because of its importance in the Japan pelagic food web as well as its ability to live for many years. Various other groups have signed memorandum, agreeing not to hunt them.

Conservation efforts have included having ship lines take a new path to their destination such as cruise lines as well as reduced human interaction close up. Feeding the dolphins has also become a problem, and has led to behavioural changes. This has also been suggested as another reason for mortality events.

The striped dolphin once thrived, numbering 127,880 before 1990. Since then, the population has suffered from incidental catches in fisheries. Mortality has been considered unsustainable, but there is a lack of data which hampers conservation efforts.

Various cases of stranding over the years have been a cause for alarm. With an unfavourable conservation status and the increasing amount of debris piling in the ocean every year, striped dolphin’s population is decreasing. 37 dolphins stranded off the Spanish Mediterranean coast were suffering from dolphin morbillivirus (DMV). The causes of these stranding have been changing from epizootic to enzootic.

There is a suggestion that theses strandings are caused by a virus, and that the virus is becoming more common.

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Pantropical spotted dolphin

The pantropical spotted dolphin is a species of dolphin found in all the world’s temperate and tropical oceans.

The rise of so called, “Dolphin friendly” tuna capture (in the1980s), is thought to have saved millions of this species, in the eastern pacific. This  species was first described by John Gray in 1846. Gray’s initial analysis included the Atlantic spotted dolphin in this species. They are now regarded as separate. Both the genus and specific names come from Latin words meaning thin or thinning.

Two subspecies of the pantropical spotted dolphin are recognized, (Another unnamed subspecies, which inhabits inland Hawaiian waters, was recognized in Rice (1998)’s overview of marine mammal taxonomy, its unclear why this has not been fully recognized)

          S. a. attenuata or offshore pantropical spotted dolphin, found worldwide in tropical waters

          S. a. graffmani or coastal pantropical spotted dolphin, found in coastal waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. 

The pantropical spotted dolphin regularly making large, splashy leaps from the sea. It is a common Whale surfacing behaviour and will often clear the water for a second or more. Bow-riding and other play with boats is common. In the eastern Pacific, they often swim with yellow fin tuna (causing the problem with dolphin deaths caused by tuna fishing, though they do not eat them).  In fact, the two species have similar diets of small epipelagic fish. In other areas, the species may also feed on squid and crustaceans.

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