Welcome to Banks Peninsula, home of The Hector’s dolphins and eco-tourism pioneers Black Cat Cruises

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World Animal Day – Celebrating and Protecting Hector’s Dolphins

akaroa dolphin

Today, October 4th is World Animal Day. It has become an internationally celebrated day to support animal rights and welfare and we are celebrating the Hector’s dolphin.

How World Ocean Day Started

The very first World Animal Day took place nearly 100 years ago on March 24, 1925, in the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. More than 5,000 people attended the first event, however today the movement is now celebrated worldwide. It was originally founded by writer and animal activist Heinrich Zimmermann, author of Mensch und Hund (Man and Dog). In 1929 the date changed to October 4. The reason was quite simple and nothing fancy…the Sport Palace in Berlin simply wasn’t available that day. And since then October 4th has been known as World Ocean Day.

As champions of Hector’s dolphins here at Black Cat Cruises we’ve included some fun facts, industry info and an opportunity to encounter our very own ‘Kiwi Of The Sea’.

akaroa dolphin
Akaroa hector’s dolphin

Hector’s Dolphin Facts

Hector’s dolphins are the worlds rarest and smallest oceanic dolphin. They are only found around the shallow coastal waters of the South Island in New Zealand making them a very rare and special native marinemammal.

The world wildlife organisation continues to recognise Hector’s dolphins as being endangered. They are very unique in their appearance, making them very easy to identify in the ocean. Not only are they very small (reach up to just 1.4m long), they also have a rounded black dorsal fin – just like a Mickey Mouse ear, along with a grey body and white tummy, similar in style to an Orca.

There is a also subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin known as the Maui’s dolphin this is critically endangered and estimated to have a population of only 55. The Maui dolphin is only found along the western shores of the North Island of New Zealand.

Given how rare this endemic species is we coined the phrase ‘Kiwi of the Sea’ quite a few years back…and even worked with a local musician to create a song to celebrate this magnificent marine mammal. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the first video below here in this blog – we warn you though, it’s rather catchy!

Hector’s dolphin Image by Mark Kitchingham.

Hector’s Dolphin – Tiaki Promise

Check out this fantastic video that explains just why Hector’s dolphins are so important and as guardians of our environment we need to ensure we are doing our part as a tourism operator to take care of them, and the place we operate.

 

Hector’s Dolphin Research champions

A great source of information for Hector’s dolphins, latest research and how you can take action can be found from the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust. Led by Professor’s Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson as featured in our short documentary above, they are the world’s leading researchers and have spent a lifetime studying and campaigning for the endangered Hector’s dolphin.

They are rarer than kiwi’s and continue to be threatened by commercial and recreational fishing

You can TAKE ACTION or find out how you DONATE via their website here.

Hector’s Dolphin Education

Did you know we run a Hector’s dolphin education programme?

This 9 week curriculum level 3 programme is completely free and available to all kiwi schools and students. Our aim is to raise awareness and inspire our next generation of young kiwi’s to care for their place and it’s precious ocean inhabitants. The more we can raise awareness of the Hector’s dolphins, and how important it is that our actions allow us to work and live respectfully and sustainably together, not just for our time but for future generations to come, the better the world will be for it.

Watch this video for more info….

Protect Hector’s Dolphins

akaroa hectors dolphins adopt a dolphinYou can join our Protect Hector’s Team! We set up a way to donate further funds back to the education and protection of the Hector’s dolphins.

Joining the Protect Hector’s team cost just $29 and in return, as well as helping to support the dolphins, you will receive a personalised certificate, plush Hector’s dolphin soft toy and a unique fact sheet. Read more about and join our team here

There are also some great ways to help support both Hector’s and Maui dolphins on the Department of Conservation’s website. You can read more about it here  

 

Encounter Hector’s Dolphins in Akaroa 

hectors dolphinsOne of the best ways to encounter Hector’s dolphins is on one of our Akaroa Nature Cruise. We have some great specials on our website, including a fab family pass saving over $90. You’ll spend two hours cruising with us through the volcanic cliffs of majestic Akaroa harbour. Take in the sights, sounds and fascinating facts from significant Maori history, awe-inspiring geology, and wonderous wildlife. We often see a range of Hector’s dolphins, New Zealand Fur seals, coastal birds and more. Free tea and coffee are served from our downstairs bar area, and under 5’s cruise for free. We also offer a Hector’s Dolphin viewing guarantee with every booking, all year round. If you don’t see a dolphin (just a 2% chance) you can come and cruise with us again for free! Akaroa is also a wonderful place to explore on the stunning Banks Peninsula. It’s just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch so makes for a great day trip, weekend escape or longer.

We are an officially permitted by the Department of Conservation. As a SMART operator we adhere to DOC’s guidelines to operate in a safe, responsible and sustainable way with our marine environment and marine inhabitants.

SMART operators are leaders in sustainable marine mammal viewing through intensive staff training, responsible advertising, and education.

We are also the only cruise operator in Akaroa to be rated as Qualmark Gold, in addition we also hold the Covid Clean Approved accreditation from Qualmark. This means that our operations, training, staff and overall experience is of the highest standard. In addition we are current winners of the Tourism New Zealand award for Conservation and previous winners for Business Excellence.

Hector’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan

In order to ensure the long-term survival of these undique marine mammals the Ministry for Primary Industries have an active threat management plan in place. Black Cat Cruises were actively involved in advocating for better protection and support for the dolphins in 2019. You can see some of our work here. In 2020 there was a revision of the plan.You can view a PDF copy of the latest plan here

 

#worldanimalday #hectorsdolphin #wildandfree #akaroa