Maui Dolphin

Creature Feature – Māui Dolphin

Today is National Dolphin Day! 

In honour of this years’ National Dolphin Day, this week on Creature Feature Friday we take a detailed look at the most endangered species of dolphin, the Māui Dolphin. A subspecies of the Hector’s Dolphin, this species is New Zealand’s only endemic cetacean and it is estimated only 50 individuals remain in the wild. 

Maui Dolphin


Scientific Name: Cephalorhyncus hectori maui 

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Delphinidae 

Genus: Cephalorhynchus 

© Andrea Maecker

Māui Dolphin Fact File

? Size: Similar in size to the Hector’s Dolphin, individuals can grow up to 1.7m long and weigh up to 50kg

? Distribution: This species can only be found off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand

? Diet: Their diet is poorly understood though is known to include morid cod and Peltorhamphus flatfish 

? Behaviour: Like many other species, these dolphins have been observed playing, chasing each other, blowing bubbles, and play fighting

? IUCN Status: Critically Endangered. Like many marine creatures, they face serious pressures from human activities. The main threat is entanglement in gillnets. In addition, bycatch in trawl nets and disease from pollution has also been reported. It is estimated only around 50 individuals of reproductive age remain in the wild