Hector’s and Māui dolphins are taonga species. These beautiful, tiny marine mammals only live in Aotearoa New Zealand’s coastal waters.
The dolphins are among the world’s smallest cetaceans, easily recognised by their distinctive dorsal fin shaped like a Mickey Mouse ear.
Hector’s dolphins are found only around New Zealand’s South Island. While the Māui dolphin lives in shallow coastal waters along the North Island’s western shores.
With the Māui dolphin on the brink of extinction, WWF has for many years campaigned to save these unique marine mammals. Current programmes include:
Māui dolphin drone programme
In collaboration with Māui63, Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and Moana we developed an AI-powered tracking drone to autonomously find, follow, and uniquely identify Māui and Hector's dolphins.
In collaboration with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Cawthron Institute we run a programme which validates all Hectors and Māui dolphin sightings which are submitted to DOC.