skip to main content
Main Image.

New Zealand’s Hector's dolphins are one of the most endangered dolphin species on earth and despite awareness about the species decline, little is known about the areas in which they roam. Leading location app developer ThunderMaps has partnered with Whale & Dolphin Conservation UK and Gemma McGrath, to develop an app to crowdsource location data on Hector’s Dolphins to aid research into the species.

If you see a dolphin, with the app you can easily record its location, take a photo of the dolphin when it surfaces and record additional information such as weather and behavioural observations.

Gemma McGrath said, “Locals are excellent citizen scientists. They’re out observing their environment every day and this app helps them provide much needed scientific data on these endangered dolphins. Hector’s dolphins are very distinctive, they’re small with a very rounded fin on their back unlike other dolphins that all have pointy fins.

“Every dolphin sighting is important and the data gathered by the ‘Hector’s Dolphin Sightings’ app will be co-managed with the Department of Conservation and interested scientists to assist dolphin conservation and fill knowledge gaps.”

ThunderMaps is endorsed by the European Commission for citywide implementations of its software. Usually it makes apps to help councils keep their citizens informed and safe, however these new Dolphin applications, developed in conjunction with Whale & Dolphin Conservation group, use the same technology for the conservation market.

ThunderMaps’ Managing Director Clint Van Marrewijk says, “Although we're primarily exporting into the EU and US, our home office is in Wellington and it's important that we give back and find ways to support New Zealand.”

ThunderMaps technology has previously been applied in the conservation space. In 2014 Forest and Bird used their software for the Great Kereru Count and Gareth Morgan’s Morgan Foundation has used ThunderMaps to crowd source information on pollution, and feral cat populations in New Zealand.

The ‘Hector's Dolphin Sightings’ App is available free from today for download in the Android and Apple stores.



About Hector’s Dolphins

Hector’s and Māui dolphins are only found in New Zealand waters. They are rarer than kiwis and continue to be threatened by commercial and recreational fishing.

Entanglement in fishing nets is the number one threat and fishing has caused major population declines. These dolphins live in waters of up to 100m depth.

Hector’s dolphins are easy to identify. No other dolphin has a rounded dorsal fin. The fins on most dolphins look more like a triangle, like a shark’s fin. Hector’s and Māui dolphins are very small, up to 1.4 metres long. Other dolphins are roughly human-size, about 2 metres long, or larger. For more information, see:


About ThunderMaps

Established in 2012, ThunderMaps is a leading provider of off the shelf mobile reporting software.

It makes applications targeted towards improving health and safety in organisations, and communication tools for governments and organisations.

ThunderMaps services tens of thousands of users in 11 countries, and has offices in New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom, contracts with governments, cities and large businesses.

For more information, see:



Using crowd sourced data to save endangered Hector’s dolphins

+ Text Size -