Maui’s Dolphin

Scientific Name:
Cephalorhynchus hectori maui
1.2 - 1.6 m (3.9 - 5.2 ft)
40 - 60 kg (88 - 132 lbs)
Red cod, ahuru and sole.

Physical characteristics

The females are slightly longer and heavier than males. They have a rounded dorsal fin with a convex trailing edge and undercut rear margin. They look very similar to Hector's dolphins, however they have larger skulls than Hector’s dolphin overall, and a longer, wider rostrum.

Behavioral characterization

They likely have a social structure similar to Hector’s dolphins, where group members commonly change companions.


Northwest coast of New Zealand's North Island

Population size

Estimated 55


Killer whales, sevengill and blue shark.

Migration/Dispersal patterns

Do not migrate.

Social system/Group size

Usually seen in small groups that are segregated by sex.

Major threats

They are highly protected and no threats occur. However, due to the few individuals and the low birthrate, it is not sure that the species can survive.

Research efforts


Fun fact

This species is one of the smallest cetaceans. They used to be counted as Hector's dolphins but since 2002 they have been classified as separate subspecies. Māui dolphin are thought to have been isolated from their more numerous relatives for 15,000 - 16,000 years. This was around the same time the North Island shoreline split from the South Island during the Pleistocene.