Dolphins are agile animals and are very difficult to measure at sea. However, for the conservation of threatened or endangered species, measurement may be vital because it allows a demographic analysis of the population. Hector's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori) is a rare species living only in coastal waters around New Zealand where it is studied from small boats. This paper describes a stereophotogrammetric technique developed to measure body length accurately at sea without having to capture the individual. Constant calibration with the use of a control frame allowed accurate body length measurements of dolphins to be made with this low cost system, with a measurement error of 4 per cent to 6 per cent of actual length.