Our research projects are helping conserve Hector’s dolphins by increasing our knowledge of their habitat use and behavior. We investigate how these rare dolphins respond to boaters and swimmers, use their habitat and interact with fishing gear. We also conduct population and health assessments.

Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary Surveys

We conduct research in the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary on this endangered dolphin.

Radio Tag Studies

Radio tag studies have revealed daily diurnal migration patterns and harbor use.

Acoustic Net Alarms

We worked with the University of New Hampshire’s Ocean Engineering Department to develop an acoustic pinger alarm to reduce bycatch of Hector’s dolphins in commercial fishing nets.

Boat Traffic

We have studied dolphin behavior and the relationships and interactions between dolphins and harbor boat traffic, tour boats and swimmers.

Habitat Use

The discovery of two dead dolphin calves killed by boat strikes led to an ongoing investigation of habitat use by mothers and calves within Akaroa Harbour during the summer months in order to locate habitats critical to calves.

Satellite Tag Research

We fitted three Hector’s dolphins with satellite tags and tracked their movements over several months. The team conducted health assessments on each animal to help determine baseline health parameters for these dolphins.

Results and Successes

Our research is helping conserve Hector’s dolphins by reducing the threats they face in their daily lives and providing information on dolphin behavior and distribution to aid management plans. We have designed alarms to prevent dolphins from becoming tangled in fishing nets, and study how dolphins interact with boats and swimmers.