Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 6, 1873
This text is also available in PDF
(238 KB) Opens in new window
– 87 –

Art. XVI.—List of Seals, Whales, and Dolphins of New Zealand.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 6th August, 1873.]

The fauna of New Zealand, as regards marine mammalia, is extending, and I have no doubt will be found to be much richer as they become more studied. For example, we have not yet had the “Sulphur Bottom” or the “Trigger” of New Zealand whales, and there are other species mentioned as found in those seas, but in such a manner as not to be able to be entered in scientific catalogues. There are many more species recorded as inhabiting Australian seas, which, no doubt, range as far as New Zealand, but I have only inserted these on the authority of specimens,


Stenorhynchus leptonyx.—The Sea Leopard, Gray, Cat, Seals and Whales, p. 16; Webb, Trans, N.Z. Inst., II., p. 29; Fraser, 1. c., p. 33.

Habitat—New Zealand, Port Nicholson (F. Knox).

Skull in British Museum. [Skeleton in Colonial Museum]


Arctocephalus cinereus.—The Grey Australian Fur Seal. Otaria cinerea, Perron and Le Sueur; Quoy and Gaimard, Voy. Astrolabe, t. xii., xiii., xiv.; Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., IV., pl. 12, f. 1 (skull); not Gray,

– 88 –
  • Suppl. Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 24; Phoca ursina, Forster, Cook's Voy.; Olaria forsteri, Lesson, Dict. Class. Hist. Nat., xiii., p. 421; Phoca forsteri, Fischer, Synops. Mam., p. 232; Arctocephalus forsteri, Gray, Ann. Nat. Hist., 1868, i., p. 219.

Habitat—New Zealand, Milford Sound (Hector).

Skull in Col. Museum, Wellington, and Brit. Mus.

  • 3 Gypsophoca subtropicalis.—The Small Fur Seal, Gray, P.Z.S., 1872. Arctocephalus (Gypsophoca) cinereus, Gray, Suppl. Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 24, not synonyms.

Arctocephalus cinereus (young), Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., IV., t. xii., f. 2.

Habitat—New Zealand, Auckland Islands (Hector).

Skull in Col. Museum, Wellington.

North Australia (MacGillivray).

Specimens in Brit. Mus. from North Australia.


NeobalŒna marginata, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 90; Suppl., p. 40; t. 1, 2 (skull); Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., 1869, p. 26, t. iib. f. 1–4.

Habitat—New Zealand, island of Kawau (Hector); and West Australia.

Skull in Col. Mus., Wellington.


Caperea antipodarum, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 101, f. 9, (ear bone); Suppl., p. 45.


Ear bone in Brit. Mus.; ? skeleton in Mus., Paris.


Macleayius australiensis, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 105, f. 10, 11, and p. 371, f. 74, 75. P.Z.S., 1872.

Habitat—New Zealand (Haast).

Skeleton in Brit. Mus.


—–? BalŒna antipodarum (ear bones only), Van Beneden, Ost. Cét, t. 111, f. 12, 14.

Habitat—New Zealand.

Ear bones in Mus., Brussels.


Megaptera novŒ, zelandiŒ, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 120, f. 20 (ear bone and os petrosum).

Habitat—New Zealand.

Ear bone and os petrosum in Brit. Mus.

Physalus antarcticus, Gray, Cat. Cet. B. M., 1850, p. 43; Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 164. The “finner,” Dieffenbach (Knox).

Inhabits New Zealand. Only known from some yellowish white baleen or whalebone, Gray, 1. c.

The Trigger-fin, Rorqualus sp., of Knox, (Trans. N.Z. Inst., II., p. 25) belongs to this species, but the osteology was not studied, and no specimens have reached the British Museum.

– 89 –

Electra clancula, Gray, Suppl. Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 77; Lagenorhynchus clanculus, Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., 1870, p. 27; Delphinus supeciliosus, Lesson.

Habitat—New Zealand.

Skeleton in Col. Museum, Wellington.


Globiocephalus macrorhynchus, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 320; Gervais, Ost. Cét., t. 52; Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., II., 1870, p. 38.

Habitat—New Zealand.

Two skulls in Col. Museum, Wellington.


Beluya? Hector, Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist., 1872, ix., p. 430.

Habitat—New Zealand, Wellington (Hector).

This is very likely Beluga kingii, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 300; Syn. Whales and Dolphins, p. 9, t. 7 (skull), of which we have a skull in the British Museum from Australia, brought home by Captain Parker King, R.N.


Berardius arnuxi, Gray, Cat. Seals and Whales, p. 348, f. 70 (skull); Gervais, Ost. Cét. (skull), Knox and Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., II., p. 27; III., p. 125, t. xvi., xvii.; Haast, Trans. N.Z. Inst., II., p 190.

Habitat—New Zealand, Port Nicholson, Porirua Harbour (Knox); Canterbury (Haast).

Skeleton in Mus. Roy. Coll. Surg. Skull in Col. Mus., Wellington.


Berardius hectorii, Gray, Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist., 1871, viii., p. 117; Berardius arnuxii (part), Knox and Hector, Trans. N.Z. Inst., III., p. 108, t. 14, 15.

Habitat—Cook Strait, Titai Bay (Knox).

Length, 9 feet. The lower jaw is narrow in front, gradually becoming wider behind, and with a distinct gonyx at the end of the symphysis.

The lower jaws of the two Ziphioid whales figured by Dr. Hector have only a tooth at the front end, instead of a tooth at the front and one a little further behind on the side of the jaw, as is usual in Berardius. Perhaps this depends on age. The having only two teeth quite in front of the lower jaw is the character of Epiodon, but that has a sub-cylindrical tooth, and Dr. Hector's animals both have compressed triangular teeth like Berardius, as figured in his plates, so that if they are not Berardius they are a new genus.

Mesoplodon longirostris, of Krefft, of a skeleton of which in the Australian Museum of Sydney he sent me a very beautiful photograph, appears to be either Berardius hectorii or a new species. The photograph does not show any teeth. The beak of the Australian specimen appears to be longer, viz., nearly twice as long as the head, whereas the beak figured by Hector is but little more than one-and-a-half times as long as the head.