I’ve always dreamed of swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitat. I had a unique opportunity of a life time, being able to swim with the smallest and rarest dolphin, the Hector Dolphin. Akaroa Harbour boasts it’s the only place on the planet where you can swim with these small and rare dolphins.
Such an amazing experience, I was very lucky to encourage the most attention from a few Hector Dolphins as we huddled together in a circle in the sea, making noise to keep them interested – having a pair of Hector’s circling me on several occasions. It was a dream fulfilled and it really was an experience of a life time.
I can’t begin to explain the range of emotions you feel as you’re placed out in the open sea, in a stylish (very tight fitting) wet suit and having these small dolphins circle around you and leap through the middle of the group, it was simply stunning.
About Hector Dolphins
The dolphins were named in honour of Sir James Hector (1834-1907) who examined the first specimen. Since the dolphins are a native species they are also known as the ‘New Zealand Dolphins’. To the Maori the dolphins are known as ‘Tutumairekurai’, which means ‘special ocean dweller’.
The Hector dolphin is the smallest dolphin species in the world. Adult females reach a maximum size of about 1.4m/4′ 7″ (48kg/105lb), while adult males are a little smaller at 1.3m/4′ 3″ (46kg/100lb). A newborn dolphin is just 76cm/2′ 4″ (8kg/17lb), which is incredibly small for a marine mammal. The Hector dolphin is among the world’s rarest dolphins with a total population of 7000.