Cute and under threat

Dolphins Down Under: Understanding the New Zealand Dolphin
By Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson (Otago University Press, RRP $30)

Found only in New Zealand’s waters, Hector’s dolphins are both cute and fascinating.

They are also – as the publisher points out – as ‘‘kiwi as the kiwi but their numbers are under threat’’.

Suitable for a wide range of ages, this little book is packed with information about these creatures and the dangers they face, especially from fishing.

The passion of the authors shines through and it is hard not to share in that passion once you learn more about these dolphins. Slooten and Dawson have spent three decades studying  the distribution, behaviour, biology, reproduction and communication of they and have identified more than 100 individuals and recorded their life events.

It is the specific stories about these individual dolphins that makes the book so interesting: yes, we should all be interested in knowing about and preserving our local critters, but it is getting to know more about them as individuals (rather than as statistics) that helps us to identify with them.

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