So, how many types of dolphins there are? Well with oceanic and river dolphins, 42 species. I cover 10 of my favorites, from the little-known to the well-known.
Find out more about the different types of dolphins that you can find. From the Irrawaddy Dolphin to the miss-named killer whale, I give facts such as where the different species live and whether they are endangered.
Are you looking for a special gift for the dolphin lover in your life, or maybe just want to treat yourself. Why not pop over and find some inspiration with my gift ideas for dolphin lovers.
10 Different Types of Dolphins
Although this list doesn’t cover all types of dolphins, I have tried to include some of the most interesting species of dolphin. In light of World Dolphin Day, I have also paid extra attention to the species that are unfortunately endangered.
1. Bottlenose Dolphins
Notably found in dolphinariums and seen on T.V. For this reason the bottlenose dolphin is probably the best known of all the dolphin species. Known to be fast swimmers Bottlenose dolphins inhabit the more tropical and temperate oceans and can be found around the world.
In addition to the common bottlenose dolphin, you can find the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the Black Sea bottlenose.
Unlike some species, in general, this common dolphin species is not considered threatened. Although in some parts of the world, there is a growing concern that this might become an issue.
2. Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphin
As you may have guessed the name describes its most distinctive feature, the unique dorsal fin. These dolphins swim in the shallow warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the West African Coast.
Compared to other species of dolphin, the Atlantic Humpbacked dolphin is far less social and is not a fast swimmer100/100. Unfortunately, a lot about this wonderful mammal remains unknown, as there has been very little research done.
Sadly, it is believed that they are now ‘critically endangered’ and that there are 3000 or less, left in existence.
3. Irrawaddy Dolphin
Similar to that of beluga whales, the Irrawaddy dolphin has a distinctive round head. This can be explained by their close relation to Orcinus orca. Although not technically a river dolphin species, they can sometimes be found in estuaries. In fact, some of the last remaining Irrawaddy actually exist in the Mekong River.
Sadly the Irrawaddy dolphin is one of the most threatened dolphin species. With this in mind, worldwildlife.org quote that only ’92 individuals are estimated to still exist’.
4. Spinner Dolphin
Because of the hydrodynamic bodies of the Spinner dolphin, they are very acrobatic dolphins and known to perform tricks. Spinner dolphins can be found in warm waters, have a long slim beak, and can grow to about 6 feet long.
This is another group consisting of several sub-species that can be found over a large area spanning the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. Their coloration is interesting featuring gray, pink, and white hues.
5. Dusky Dolphin
You can recognize the dusky dolphin by the light gray to white stripe that runs from their head to their tail. This is another smaller species but also a very acrobatic one, often seen making elaborate jumps in groups.
They are fast swimming, very agile, extremely sociable, and can be found all along the southern hemisphere, preferring shallow and cool waters.
6. Burrunan Dolphin
The list of how many species of dolphins there are was increased in 2011 with the addition of the newly discovered Burrunan dolphin.
Found along the coasts and estuaries of certain parts of Australia, this is one of the species with the smallest habitat and population. So far, only about 150 have been spotted. So, sadly even only recently found, the Burrunan dolphin is already listed as an endangered species.
7. Ganges River Dolphin
Perhaps one of the most famous of the river dolphin families is this unusual species. It has a distinct long pointed snout that makes up about 1/5 of its length.
Although on first seeing them it may look as if they have eyes, they are in fact blind. They use ultrasonic sound to find any fish and small invertebrates hiding underneath.
Unfortunately, this is another endangered river dolphin with a population of approximately 1000. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up like the Yangtze river dolphin, which as quoted in an article by the Newscientist, was taken from the ‘critically endangered list and put in the ‘possibly extinct’ category.
8. Killer Whale (Orca)
You may be surprised to know that killer whales are also considered dolphins so their common name is highly misleading. Growing to over 30 feet in length a killer whale is definitely the largest of the dolphin species.
The orca is an important symbol for the dark side of captive life, perhaps best known for the film Free Willy. Although their population numbers are unknown, they can survive in almost all waters.
9. Short-finned Pilot Whale
Pilot whales are another species that belong to the family Delphinidae and are commonly confused for a whale. It has a large black body with a bulbous head that makes it a truly different species from other dolphins.
They prefer deep water habitats and warm waters, unlike the long-finned pilot whale that likes cooler oceans. Because they are extremely sociable you will find them in substantial family pods that, although roam looking for food, stick together.
10. Hourglass Dolphin
Despite the hourglass dolphin species looking like a small version of the orca. In reality, it has a different black and white color pattern that looks like an hourglass. There is nothing more they like to do than ride on the waves of a boat.
Similarly, as with many dolphins, they are acrobatic and social, preferring to live in small family pods. Many are also seen living side by side with certain whale species. I am pleased to say, that for the moment anyway, there is no threat to the hourglass dolphin.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
These 10 examples give you some insight into just some of the different types of dolphins from a very long list of varieties and characteristics. Here are some answers to questions that I have not covered in the above article, I hope you find them interesting.
How many types of dolphins are there in the world?
Worldwide there are over 40 different dolphin species, belonging to 6 distinct families. There are both freshwater river dolphins and saltwater oceanic dolphins. Along with some species wrongly named as whales even though they are biologically dolphins.
Which is the world’s most endangered dolphin?
The Maui dolphin is one of the most threatened dolphin species and is now listed as ‘critically endangered’, there are now less than 50 individuals still known to be alive they are at risk of becoming extinct. They can be found living along a 22-mile stretch off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
What is the biggest dolphin?
The Orca or killer whale as it’s better known is the largest dolphin. Its body can be over 30 feet long and it can weigh nearly 6 tons which is far larger than most species and might explain why they were thought to be whales.
What is a dolphin family called?
The scientific name for a dolphin family is Delphinidae. In English, a group of dolphins can also be referred to as a pod which is the same word used for a group of whales.
Dolphins can still be found in waters stretching across the globe, from the oceans to the rivers and estuaries. However, they are forever in danger of becoming threatened, fortunately, for the time being, there are many different types of dolphins, each deserving a place on this earth.