This Is the Rarest Dolphin Species in the World

Meet the small, stocky, lovable dolphin species that is currently endangered.

hector's dolphin rareimageBROKER/Shutterstock

This is the World’s Rarest Dolphin Species

Chances are you’re most familiar with the common bottlenose dolphin. They’re the ones you’re most likely to spot offshore, see at the aquarium, and, if you’re lucky, swim with. But they’re not the only dolphins around! In fact, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, 49 species of dolphins and porpoises exist, several of which are on the verge of extinction. One of the extremely rare dolphins is Hector’s dolphin, living in the coastal waters of New Zealand.

These dolphins were named after the man who first examined them in 1869, New Zealand zoologist Sir James Hector. They are known for their stocky, compact bodies and their unusual gray, black, and white colouring. Hector’s dolphins don’t have a protruding beak like bottlenose dolphins do, and their fins are rounder than that of the common bottlenose. (The World Wildlife Foundation affectionately describes their fins as resembling Mickey Mouse’s ears.) Hector’s dolphins are a threatened species and their close relative, the Maui dolphin, also found in New Zealand, is on the critically endangered list. Check out 11 wild animal species you never knew were endangered.

Organizations including the WWF are working hard to pass legislation to ban gillnetting in the dolphins’ habitat off the coast of New Zealand, as that is the primary killer of Hector’s and Maui dolphins. Dolphins often get tangled up in these fishing nets, which is not the fisherman’s intention, but an unfortunate and devastating consequence of this type of fishing method. You can help by supporting the WWF or adopting a dolphin. Or, if you’re in New Zealand, the country’s Department of Conservation also provides helpful and specific information on how you can help save this rare species.

Next, learn about the animals that have gone extinct in the past 100 years.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest