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Smallest and Rarest - Hector's Dolphin

Smallest and Rarest - Hector's Dolphin
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-01-01
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/400 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-02-12 10:08
Viewed: 6880
Points: 28
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
First - my thanks for all your generous crits and sorry mine have been shorter than usual - I have been rather busy and am having trouble keeping up.

This shot was taken around the Banks Peninsula near Christchurh, which is a hotspot for these dolphins.

At an average length of just 1.3m, Hector’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori) is the smallest marine dolphin in the world. Unfortunately, with an estimated total population of between 3,000 and 4,000, it is also one of the rarest and is classified as endangered by the IUCN. Found exclusively in the coastal waters of New Zealand, Hector’s dolphins are generally encountered within a few nautical miles of the shore, and are easily recognised by their distinctive rounded dorsal fins, which have been likened to ‘Mickey Mouse’ ears! While Hector’s dolphins are observed around both the North and South Islands, at least four distinct sub-populations have been identified through genetic evidence from mtDNA research and from distribution studies. The North Island population is now thought to be as small as 100 and is restricted to a small section of the West Coast, earning it the unfortunate distinction of being classified as critically endangered.

While there are several factors that may be causing the decline of this species, such as pollution and boat strikes, the main factor seems to be incidental catch in gillnet fisheries. In the mid 1980s, up to 50 dolphins per year were being caught along the Canterbury coast alone (a 250km length of the east coast of the South Island). Such a high level of bycatch was certainly unsustainable, given that Hector’s dolphin populations, like other dolphin species, have a maximum potential growth rate of 2-4% per annum. This, together with a low overall abundance and a rather patchy distribution, prompted the Department of Conservation to establish New Zealand’s first marine mammal sanctuary, in the waters around Banks Peninsula in 1988.

(Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society)

rousettus, nglen, mjaniceanne, CeltickRanger, PaulH, haraprasan, MMM has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To nglen: UK wild dolphinsJamesp 1 02-14 06:02
To Bufo: DifficultJamesp 1 02-12 13:14
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Zeno Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 483 W: 0 N: 1345] (10867)
  • [2008-02-12 10:10]

Hi James,

Great timing. Its not easy to catch these fellows. You were very fast on the trigger. My compliments.


Hello James
Nice to see such a rare dolphin species with your great capture. Timing, lighting great, water drops great for composition. POV and focus also perfect. notes everytime great. thank a lot for showing, well done my friend

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-02-12 11:08]
  • [+]

Hi James . I have never seen a Dolphin in the wild. they look so graceful. . you have captured this one with fine detail and natural colours. the sea is a lovely blue. well done TFS.

  • Great 
  • Bufo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 404 W: 69 N: 951] (4247)
  • [2008-02-12 13:04]
  • [+]

Hi James, definitly one of the highlights of my visit to NZ, BUT I never managed to get them on film. Here's a great picture, because I know how hard it is to get a picture of a dolphin. Good work,

Hello James,
Very good timing to capture the splash and the dolphin!
very good sharpness, colour and details in the shot!
many thanks for sharing with good notes

hello James

superb shot with the splash of the water,
excellent sharpness and details and i love
to see the movement of the waves of the sea, TFS


  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2008-02-12 22:34]

Hello James,
I'm sorry.. Just marking this beautiful picture
I'll be back tomorrow,


  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-02-13 4:19]

Hi James,
i know the feeling - i should really stop posting until i have caught up1
Anyway, this is a great shot, loads of drama and movemnet and very well timed, probably alot harder than it looks!! There's a few pods of Dolphins around my stretch of the coast apparantly, yet to see any though!

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-02-13 4:28]

Hello James, what a wonderful capture, taken at the right moment, with a very good technique, well done, thanks!


  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-02-13 4:48]

You are very lucky to see such a cool but rare animal James and then photograph it brilliantly as well!
Impeccable timing to capture this breaching Dolpin.
We get a real sense of its speed from the water spray and dynamic composition.
Superb sharpness and clarity.
Informative notes.
Very, very well done!


Hi James,
A nice capture of this beautiful Hector Dolphin. Well composed with very good details and a good DOF. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Nice shot. Good use of thirds and you've stopped the action of the water droplets perfectly.

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2008-02-13 8:30]

Hi James
Excellent action picture.Good POV and sharp image.Well composed image with perfect timing.
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-02-13 18:51]

Hello James

A lovely capture of this dolphin ,the lighting is very good.
The colours are bright and vibrant.
The splash of water is well captured giving a very good indication of motion.


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