By Floor Anthoni (2006)
For seals see the seals page. Also see another
All A5@300dpi quality unless indicated otherwise.
Hectors dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) are native to New
Zealand, mainly found along the shores of the south Island. A small population
of what is thought to be a subspecies, Mauis dolphin, is found along the
west coast of the North Island. This dolphin has a tubby, endearing shape
with rounded dorsal fins and flippers. It is also one of the smallest dolphins
in the world, rarely exceeding one metre.
f026418: this group of young Hectors dolphin 'hoons', is
energetic like young children and inventive at their games. Hectors dolphins
prefer murky waters where their echolocating clicks give them advantage
in their hunt.
f026417: a young Hectors dolphin discovers the fun of riding
the bow wave of a ship. Around the bow of a ship, the water is deflected
sideward and downward, which can be used to get a free but difficult ride.
The animal places its fluke on an angle, and uses it like a surf board,
as shown above
f026502: Hectors dolphin at the surface.
f026505: A pod of young Hectors dolphins taking a moment's
f026527: Hectors dolphins are small and tubby but very energetic,
requiring lots of high energy food. They hunt fish like young red cod over
the bottom and young mullet at the surface.
f026526: this photo shows a number of young hoons chasing
one another in their never ending games.
The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is New Zealand's most common
dolphin as it is found along all coasts while migrating far afield in the
Pacific Ocean. It is a large dolphin, reaching some 3.5 metres in length.
Living in relatively small pods of 5-40 animals, this dolphin is often
encountered racing ships and playing in their bow waves.
Recently its numbers appear to be declining and the number of calves
in each pod too. In certain years many dead calves are found washed up
on beaches but it is not precisely known why.
f202936: a bottlenose dolphin cruising in shallow water in
search for Kahawai which they herd up onto the beach.
f011221: this bottlenose dolphin had its dorsal fin cut by
propeller strike. Propeller strikes are becoming more common as boats become
more numerous and faster. A6
f011708[A6]: a dolphin encounter usually consists of a fleeting
visit by the largest males. Each has distinguishing birth marks and scratches
from real and play fights.
f011705[A6]: closeup of a large male bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops
f011705[A6]: closeup of a large male bottlenose dolphin.
f014311: in recent years one sees more and more deformed
dolphins like this bottlenose dolphin with a grossly deformed dorsal fin
and shortened tail stock. It is worrisome.
f014306: a mother and her deformed calf. The bottom animal
has a fat belly and a deformed tail stock which prevents it from being
able to provide for itself. But the care of dolphins for their calves and
those of others is such that pods form of exclusively deformed dolphins
and their mothers.
f014303: a mother dolphin pushes her deformed calf because
its deformed tail stock prevents it from swimming well and providing for
its own food.
f011219[A6]: as female dolphins mature, they become seriously
involved in the game of cradling seaweed on their backs. Like dolls' play
for girls, it prepares them for motherhood when their newly borns require
to take their first breaths. (see f011226)
f011226[A6]: a mother dolphin cradles her dead baby over
her back in an attempt to bring it back to life. Having done so for a week,
by day and by night, her baby is now falling apart, its entrails showing.
Tragically, we see more and more of this happening.
The little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) lives far away from
Antarctica and is found along all New Zealand's shores, although it is
more common along the South Island. The white-flippered penguin is a subspecies
albosignata) and is less blue on its back while having distinctly white
These animals spend most of their time in the sea, fishing for small
shrimps and fish. By night they return to the shore to dry, walking long
distances uphill to their secretive burrows. The animals suffer a hard
life and mortality is high, particularly among the young.
f210321: a giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus) demolishing
a white-flippered blue penguin (Eudyptula albosignata) with its
powerful beak. We don't know whether it found it dead, or whether it caught
f026626: fairy penguins have a hard time to survive but deteriorating
seas do not make life easier for them. As people try to protect their colonies,
the sea still threatens them with human induced poisonous food.
f015214: blue penguins have strange nesting habits. They
either clamber hundreds of metres up a steep coast to make themselves a
burrow in the soil, or they select a sea cave where they are very particular
about their choice. Can you see the baby blue penguin near the centre of
f015215: blue penguins lay two eggs but one of the chicks
usually dies. The two eggs shown here are infertile and the parents have
now abandoned them after brooding for three months (Sept-Nov). In certain
years the whole crop of baby penguins fails. It happens more frequently
f015217: a blue penguin chick patiently waits all day for
its parents to return at dusk.
f015325: a blue penguin chick on its nest inside a sea cave.
f015216: can you spot the baby penguin in this image?
f212614: blue penguins suffer a hard life with high natural
mortality, but humans do not make it easier for them. Finding a dead bird
is always sad.
f015330: a teenage girl has braved the waves with a long
swim, then clambered op the slippery pebbles inside a sea cave in order
to cuddle a baby penguin. The photographer first handled the chick while
incurring sharp pecks. Then the baby penguin became more trusting of our
f015323: on right it shows its white flipper which identifies
it as a white flippered penguin (Eudyptula albosignata)
f015331: endearing moment
f015332: endearing blue penguin chick
f015333: blue penguin chick feeling cosy and warm
f990833: blue penguins washed up after a mass mortality event
at sea. The causes of such mortalities are not known.
f026611: Left: in the dim light of dusk, a blue penguin
has returned from the sea, drying itself before clambering up the cliff,
often for hundreds of metres to its burrow.
peng05: a young man collects dead penguins in a bucket, for
the second day in a row.
peng04: during some mass mortalities, dead penguins are
swept into particular beaches where they can be picked up in scores.
peng08: the spoils of another day of mass penguin mortality.
f026819: in places, blue penguins seek the shelter of
human dwellings as this one has found here in the drain of a garden wall.
The yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) is much less
numerous than the blue penguin. It is not found on the North Island of
New Zealand. It is a very strong swimmer, capable of jumping clear out
of the water, resembling a small dolphin. It does not make a burrow but
maintains a lair underneath thick coastal shrubbery where its young and
eggs are easily preyed upon by cats, rats and stoats.
f026737[A6]: a pair of yellow-eyed penguins snapped while
swimming in murky water. (Near Dunedin)
f210411: a yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
poses before the camera. Normally these birds are very shy, but at times
one can be found with a more approachable attitude.
f026825[A6]: Yellow-eyed penguin crossing the much walked
beach towards its den under a dense bush in the dunes. These birds arrive
when dusk is so dark that they can hardly be seen. Sensitive film used.
f026827[A6]: a yellow-eyed penguin trudges laboriously like
an old man up the foredune, past the well camouflaged photographer.
f210523: A yellow-eyed penguin's foot track leading into
the dunes. Often a mate calls from its den and its calls are returned before
the penguin leaves the safe wavewash to trudge up the dunes.
f026831[A6]: avid bird watchers have walked the long
track to the hide specially built for watching penguins land at dusk. In
the distance the slanting track taken by many birds, but some walk right
past this hut.