Since I was young it was always my dream to swim with dolphins. When I went to New Zealand in 2015, this dream finally came true. Thereby it was important for me, that this encounter would be as
tolerable as possible for the Dolphins. After some research, I found the Black Cat Cruises Group in Akaroa, who offered Eco-Tours.
They offer trips in the natural habitat of the Hector- Dolphins, who aren't fed and come to the boots with their free will. A portion of all Ticket sells gets donated to the education and research of the endangered Hector’s- Dolphin.
When the boat gets close to a group of Dolphins, it stays and waits if the Dolphins leave. If they stay close to the boat, the group of swimmers gets into the water, equipped with a snorkel and a
wetsuit. The snorkel is used to blow air into the water and produce some noise underwater, so the Dolphins get curious and come closer. Thereby it is very helpful that Hector- Dolphins are really
playful and curious. Note that it is forbidden to touch them, as the skin of the animals can be injured.
When I was on the boat and got closer to the Dolphins, tears of joy were running down my face. A long kept Childhood dream finally came true. It definitely was one of the most precious moments of my life and I wish that more people could make this kind of experience, therefore we need to learn to take more care of our planet and to treat him with more respect.
Hector- Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hector)
>> With a length of 1,50 m Hector- Dolphins belong to the smallest Dolphins worldwide. They are endemic for New Zealand, which means, they can just be found in the open waters around NZ. The sociable Dolphin lives in groups of 2 to 8 animals and can reach an age up to 20 years.
But a lot of them will never get that old. The number of animals declined since 1970 from 50. 000 to now under 10. 000. They are listed as endangered on the Red List of the IUCN. Hector-Dolphins facing thereby different kinds of threats.
Shipping lanes dissect their habitats, they get caught into fishing nets as well and die really painful. The pollution of the habitats by agriculture and forestry effluents are threats as well, next to the introduction of invasive species (species that are not typical to this area) and illnesses. All together lead to the ongoing decline of the species.
The Government of NZ created two protected areas where the population of the Hector- Dolphins hopefully can recover, however, there are no new data that confirm the success of the Conservation Actions.
If you want to read more about Hector- Dolphins, the threats and Conservation Actions, you can go to:
If you are planning a trip to NZ, I can recommend "Black Cat Cruises":
*Even if I seem to advertise for Black Cat Crusies, I am not payed by them in any way, I just love what they do and want to spread the word :) *