paul bingham

Hector's dolphin baby spotted

Black Cat Cruises, 18 Feb 16
Christchurch sightseeing -

The first Hector's dolphin calf of the season has been spotted by tourists in Akaroa Harbour. Four adult dolphins and one calf were seen swimming in the upper harbour near Wainui on Sunday morning. Black Cat Cruises skipper Julian Yates said he saw four adult Hector's dolphins at Wainui, and as they moved around he realised a baby calf was with them. "The calf looked around just four-weeks-old; you can tell their age by the folds in their skin which help indicate how young the calf is." Hector's dolphins are among the most endangered species in the world. Their coastal habitat and slow reproductive rate mean they are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, especially gill nets. The international passengers on board were from the Dawn Princess cruise ship "They were really excited to see such a rare species of new born baby. It was a real treat and so delightful. The dolphins were really friendly and kept coming up to the boat," Yates said. Females usually have one calf every two or three years. The calves are 50 to 60 centimetres long at birth and stay close to their mothers, who provide them with milk and protection for about a year until they are old enough to fend for themselves. In its first year in 1985, Black Cat carried fewer than 3000 passengers. The company's annual tally was now over the 3.5 million mark. Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said tourism numbers in Canterbury could hit record levels this season. "Canterbury, particularly in terms of international visitors, will probably have a record number this year. "With the increase in the number of visitor arrivals growing at 7-8 per cent a year at the moment, and more international air services into New Zealand, it is certainly likely to be the best outcome we've seen for some time," he said. - Stuff