Meet the dolphin dogs who listen out for Hector’s Dolphin in Akaroa


Meet the dolphin dogs: The patient pooches who spend hours at sea listening out for clicks from a rare species

  • Dogs are used on cruise ship to help tourists spot rare species of dolphins 
  • Hector’s Dolphin are one of the rarest in the world with only about 15,000 left 
  • Akaroa Dolphins uses the dogs as part of a cruise to help seek out the dolphins 

Four special dogs have been trained to spend hours at sea listening out for a rare species of dolphins.

Dubbed the ‘dolphin dogs’, they wait to hear the clicks, chirps, and whistles from the Hector’s dolphin in Akaroa, about 90 minutes from Christchurch.

The sea creatures are one of the rarest in the world with an estimated population of between 8,000 and 15,000.

Tour company Akaroa Dolphins uses the dogs as part of a cruise where tourists wait eagerly to be steered toward the exotic dolphins. 

Hector's Dolphins are one of the rarest in the world with an estimated population between 8,000 - 15,000

Hector’s Dolphins are one of the rarest in the world with an estimated population between 8,000 – 15,000

Albie, a 20 month English Springer Spaniel who is described as a 'big gentle teddy bear'

Albie, a 20 month English Springer Spaniel who is described as a ‘big gentle teddy bear’

Upon arrival, guests meet the expert dolphin spotting dogs, including Albie, a 20-month English Springer Spaniel who is described as a ‘big gentle teddy bear’.

He’s been on the lookout for dolphins since he was just six-months-old and ‘loves to stick his head over the side of the boat, lying flat on his tummy, to get as close to the dolphins as possible’. 

Another one of the dogs, five-year-old schnauzer Buster, has fallen off the boat in excitement after spotting dolphins. 

Having been on the job since he was just one, Buster enjoys getting to know the guests and gets cheeky with them by sneaking up from behind to warm up against them. 

Five-year-old schnauzer, Buster has fallen off the boat in excitement after spotting dolphins

Five-year-old schnauzer, Buster has fallen off the boat in excitement after spotting dolphins

Jet is retired after having spent five years looking out for dolphins, but is still taken out for the occasional trip

Jet is retired after having spent five years looking out for dolphins, but is still taken out for the occasional trip

The company boasts a 98 per cent success rate of spotting dolphins in the past 12 months

The company boasts a 98 per cent success rate of spotting dolphins in the past 12 months

Jet is retired after having spent five years looking out for dolphins, but is still taken out for the occasional trip. 

‘As a herding dog, he will bark when he senses the dolphins, not stopping until told.

‘Once a working dog always a working dog.’

Moana has newly joined the team and is still training and ‘accompanies Buster and Albie during their workdays’.

When she’s not with the rest of the team, Moana enjoys a cheeky game of fetch.  

As the two hour cruise begins, tourists are treated to a homemade treat and complimentary drink as they wait patiently for the dogs to spot the dolphins. 

The company boasts a 98 per cent success rate of spotting dolphins in the past 12 months. 

If however your cruise was unsuccessful in seeing dolphins, the company offers another free cruise. 

Moana has newly joined the team and is still training and 'accompanies Buster and Albie during their workdays'

Moana has newly joined the team and is still training and ‘accompanies Buster and Albie during their workdays’

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