25 Different Types of Dolphins: A Definitive Guide 

Different types of dolphin

Dolphins are among the most fascinating creatures in the ocean. With their playful nature and impressive intelligence, they captivate people all over the world. But did you know there are many different types of dolphins?

In this guide, we’ll explore 25 unique dolphin species. From the well-known Bottlenose Dolphin to the less familiar Amazon River Dolphin, each has its own distinct characteristics. 

We’ll dive into their habitats, behaviors, unique features, and more. Get ready to discover the diverse and wonderful world of dolphins!

25 Types of Dolphins

1. Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin
Scientific Name:Tursiops truncatus
Habitat:Coastal and open ocean waters
Size:6–13 feet (200–400 cm)
Weight:330–1,430 pounds (150–650 kg)
Diet:Mainly eats fish and squid
Lifespan:40–60 years
Unique Features:Grey color, large size, social and intelligent, common in marine parks
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Bottlenose Dolphin is a remarkable sea creature known for its intelligence and social nature. These dolphins are mostly found in coastal and open ocean waters worldwide. 

They can grow to 6 to 13 feet and weigh between 330 and 1,430 pounds. They are skilled hunters with a diet primarily consisting of fish and squid. 

Bottlenose Dolphins can live for 40 to 60 years, showcasing their robustness and longevity.

Studies have shown that they possess advanced communication skills and can engage in complex problem-solving. This makes them among the most studied species of dolphins.

Despite their popularity in marine parks, Bottlenose Dolphins remain a species of least concern for conservation. This means they retain a stable population in their natural habitats.

2. Common Dolphin

Common Dolphin
Scientific Name:Delphinus delphis
Habitat:Coastal and open seas with warm surface waters
Size:6.2–8.2 feet (190–250 cm)
Weight:176–518 pounds (80–235 kg)
Diet:Squid, small fish like sardines and anchovies
Lifespan:Up to 40 years
Unique Features:Medium size, distinct yellow-grey-black side pattern, agile and social
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Known for its yellow-grey-black side pattern, the Common Dolphin, also known as the Short-Beaked Common Dolphin, is another well-known dolphin species. 

These dolphins inhabit coastal and open seas, preferring warm surface waters. Size-wise, they typically measure between 6.2 and 8.2 feet in length and weigh between 176 and 518 pounds

Their diet mainly consists of squid and small fish such as sardines and anchovies. When it comes to lifespan, Common Dolphins can live up to 40 years

They are also known for their remarkable speed and agility in the water, which makes them adept at acrobatic displays and efficient hunting. 

Although they encounter threats from fishing nets and pollution, they have a relatively stable population.

3. Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin
Scientific Name:Stenella longirostris
Habitat:Offshore tropical waters worldwide
Size:4–7 feet (120–240 cm)
Weight:130–170 pounds (59–77 kg)
Diet:Small fish, squid, and occasionally crustaceans
Lifespan:20–30 years
Unique Features:Notable for its small size, slender build, and acrobatic spinning behavior
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Spinner Dolphin, small and slender, lives in tropical seas around the world. These dolphins typically grow to 4 to 7 feet in length and weigh between 130 and 170 pounds

For reference, Spinner Dolphins are roughly half the length and about one-sixth the weight of Bottlenose Dolphins. Their size makes them among the smaller dolphin species.

Regarding diet, these dolphins eat small fish, squid, and occasionally crustaceans. They have a lifespan of about 20 to 30 years. Although not currently endangered, they face risks from fishing nets and habitat loss.

Spinner Dolphins get their name from their unique spinning behavior, which is believed to aid communication or parasite removal.

Here’s a video showing the acrobatic display of the Spinner Dolphin:

Why Do Spinner Dolphins Spin?

Fun Fact: Spinner Dolphins gather in huge pods of up to 200 individuals and mega pods of over 3,000.

4. Risso’s Dolphin

Rissos Dolphin
Scientific Name:Grampus griseus
Habitat:Prefers deep waters, temperate, tropical, and offshore
Size:8.5–13 feet (260–400 cm)
Weight:660–1,100 pounds (300–500 kg)
Diet:Mainly squid, fish, krill, octopus, and cuttlefish
Lifespan:At least 35 years
Unique Features:Robust body, narrow tailstock, bulbous head with a vertical crease, indistinct rostrum
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Risso’s Dolphin is another fascinating type of dolphin known for its robust body and distinctive features. These dolphins prefer to live in deep, temperate, and tropical waters, often found far from shore.

They are quite large, typically measuring between 8.5 and 13 feet long and weighing between 660 and 1,100 pounds

One fascinating fact about Risso’s Dolphins is that their bodies often become covered in scars as they age.

These scars are primarily the result of interactions with other Risso’s Dolphins, as well as encounters with their primary prey, squid, which have small suckers on their tentacles that can leave marks. 

My curiosity led me to a 2016 study that reveals how scientists can tell their age by their skin. The study used photos to classify their skin into six stages. Scientists found out that older dolphins have whiter, more scarred skin.

These findings align with my own observations from the limited time I’ve spent observing Risso’s Dolphins in the wild. Their skin changes from dark gray to almost white as they age, giving older dolphins a marbled look.

5. Orca (Killer Whale)

Orca Killer Whale dolphin
Scientific Name:Orcinus orca
Habitat:Found in all oceans, prefers 20-60 meter depths but also frequents shallow coastal waters and can dive to 300 meters
Size:Up to 32 feet (9800 cm)
Weight:Up to 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg)
Diet:Carnivorous, eats fish, mammals, and birds
Lifespan:Females up to 90 years; males up to 60 years on average
Unique Features:The largest dolphin species
Conservation Status:Data Deficient

The Orca, known as the Killer Whale, is a remarkable dolphin species. Orcas are found in oceans worldwide, often spotted in coastal waters, but can dive to depths of 300 meters. 

These impressive animals can grow up to 32 feet long and weigh as much as 22,000 pounds. Their diet is primarily carnivorous, including fish, mammals, and birds. 

Notably, female Orcas can live up to 90 years, while males have a shorter lifespan, averaging around 60 years

Aside from their size and signature black-and-white coloring, one unique aspect of Orcas is their distinct vocalizations and dialects specific to different pods. This trait is not usually observed in other dolphin species. 

An interesting podcast episode from National Geographic highlights photographer Brian Skerry’s close encounter with these giants. 

In the episode, Skerry talked about diving into Norway’s cold, dark waters to observe and photograph Orcas in their natural habitat.

An interesting thing he noticed was how the Orcas acted differently when he stopped freediving and started using scuba gear. This showed that Orcas are very sensitive to sounds and can tell when humans are around.

6. Amazon River Dolphin

Amazon River Dolphin
Scientific Name:Inia geoffrensis
Habitat:Freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and flooded forests in the Amazon Basin
Size:5–8.2 feet (150–250 cm)
Weight:216–408 pounds (98–185 kg)
Diet:Consumes fish, turtles, crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans
Lifespan:15–30 years in the wild
Unique Features:Known for their pink coloration and significant sexual dimorphism
Conservation Status:Endangered

Admired for its pink coloration, the Amazon River Dolphin is a unique species found in freshwater habitats. These dolphins live in the Amazon Basin’s rivers, lakes, and flooded forests.

They are relatively large, measuring between 5 and 8.2 feet in length and weighing up to 408 pounds

Their diet mainly consists of fish, turtles, crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans. In the wild, they can live for 15 to 30 years

Interestingly, Amazon River Dolphins have a special neck that is more flexible than other dolphins. This adaptation helps them navigate the complex, maze-like environments of the Amazon’s flooded forests and murky waters.

They also exhibit significant sexual dimorphism, mainly through color and size differences. Males are typically larger and more vibrantly pink than females.

7. Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin
Scientific Name:Orcaella brevirostris
Habitat:Inhabits the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.
Size:6.5–9.2 feet (200–280 cm)
Weight:200–440 pounds (90–200 kg)​
Diet:Feeds on a variety of fish, cephalopods (like squids), and crustaceans
Lifespan:Up to 30 years
Unique Features:Can adapt to varying salinity levels
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Irrawaddy Dolphin is a distinctive marine mammal living in the coastal areas and estuaries of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. 

These dolphins are known for their unique ability to adapt to varying salinity levels, a trait only observed in a handful of dolphin species. 

Size-wise, they measure between 6.5 and 9.2 feet in length and weigh up to 440 pounds. Their diet mainly consists of fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. 

Another interesting aspect of the Irrawaddy Dolphin is its social behavior; they are often found in small groups and are known for their shy nature, avoiding close interaction with humans. 

However, in select places, such as the Irrawaddy River, these dolphins have been observed assisting local fishermen by herding fish into nets, showcasing a rare instance of wild animals working alongside humans.

Despite their lifespan of up to 30 years, they face threats from habitat loss and fishing activities, classifying them as endangered.

8. Hector’s Dolphin

Hectors Dolphin
Scientific Name:Cephalorhynchus hectori
Habitat:Marine cetaceans endemic to the coastal waters of New Zealand
Size:4–5.25 feet (120–160 cm)
Weight:88–132 pounds (40–60 kg)
Diet:Feeds on fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans
Lifespan:20 years
Unique Features:Distinct black facial markings, short, stocky bodies, dorsal fin shaped like a Mickey Mouse ear 
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Hector’s dolphin is a small marine mammal known for its unique appearance. Their distinct black facial markings and short, stocky bodies make these dolphins easily recognizable.

Their dorsal fins are also notable, shaped like Mickey Mouse ears, which sets them apart from other dolphin species. 

Hector’s dolphins are found exclusively in the coastal waters of New Zealand, making them endemic to this region. 

They are relatively small, measuring between 4 and 5.25 feet long and weighing 88 and 132 pounds

Their conservation is vital, not only for maintaining biodiversity but also for preserving a species unique to New Zealand’s marine ecosystem.

Meet these rare dolphins by watching this short video from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation:

Meet the Locals: Hector's dolphin

9. Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
Scientific Name:Stenella frontalis
Habitat:Warm, temperate, and tropical Atlantic Ocean waters
Size:5–7.5 feet (150–230 cm)
Weight:220–315 pounds (100–140 kg)
Diet:Primarily consume bottom-dwelling invertebrates, squid, and fish
Lifespan:Up to 40 years
Unique Features:Older dolphins have distinct spotted patterns
Conservation Status:Least Concern

All the way from the Atlantic Ocean, the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin stands out with its unique body markings. These dolphins are medium-sized, ranging from 5 to 7.5 feet in length.

Interestingly, young dolphins start without spots, looking dark gray on top and light white underneath. They begin to develop spots around one year old, which darken and spread as they age.

While the exact global population is unknown, over 77,000 are estimated in the waters of the United States. 

They are mainly found in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, the Western North Atlantic, and near Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

These dolphins are also known for their social nature and playfulness, and they can live up to 40 years.

10. Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Scientific Name:Stenella attenuata
Habitat:Found in all the world’s temperate and tropical oceans
Size:6–7 feet (183–214 cm)
Weight:Up to 250 pounds (up to 113 kg)
Diet:Feeds on small epipelagic fishes, squids, and crustaceans
Lifespan:Up to 46 years
Unique Features:Associated closely with yellowfin tuna in the eastern tropical Pacific, leading to significant bycatches in tuna fisheries
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, easily recognizable by its sleek body and unique spots, inhabits warm oceans globally. These dolphins grow to about 6 to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 250 pounds

Their skin is adorned with distinctive spots that become more numerous and pronounced as they age. In terms of diet, they mainly feed on small fish, squids, and crustaceans. 

A key thing about these dolphins is how they often swim near yellowfin tuna in the eastern tropical Pacific. Sadly, this means they sometimes get caught in nets meant for catching tuna. 

This has affected how many dolphins there are. For instance, a 2021 study revealed that in 1993, one kind of Pantropical Spotted Dolphin had gone down to only 19% of what it used to be because of bycatches. 

Despite past challenges, the current conservation status of the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin is Least Concern, which indicates a now stable population. 

11. Striped Dolphin

Striped Dolphin
Scientific Name:Stenella coeruleoalba
Habitat:Temperate and tropical waters of all the world’s oceans
Size:7.9–8.5 feet (240–260 cm)
Weight:330–352 pounds (150–160 kg)
Diet:Primarily fish and squid
Lifespan:Up to 60 years
Unique Features:Distinctive blue and white stripes running from the eye to the flipper
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Characterized by their distinctive blue and white stripes, the Striped Dolphin is another remarkable type of dolphin. They have patterns running from their eyes to their flippers, creating a striking effect.

These dolphins are often seen in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, where they thrive off a fish and squid diet.

Size-wise, Striped Dolphins are medium-sized, typically measuring between 7.9 and 8.5 feet long and weighing around 330 to 352 pounds. 

On top of their unique patterns, Striped Dolphins are also known for their acrobatic displays, often leaping and spinning in the air. 

Furthermore, they are known for their high-speed swimming capabilities. They can swim at speeds of over 20 miles per hour, faster than many other dolphin species.

Fun Fact: Dolphins have a max swimming speed of around 33 miles or 54 kilometers per hour. Swimming faster can be detrimental due to the risk of cavitation — the formation of harmful bubbles on the skin caused by rapid movement.

12. Rough-Toothed Dolphin

Rough Toothed Dolphin
Scientific Name:Steno bredanensis
Habitat:Found in tropical to warm-temperate oceanic waters worldwide, preferring very deep waters
Size:7–9.3 feet (213–283 cm)
Weight:198–341 pounds (90–155 kg)​
Diet:Large fish, houndfish, smelt, squids, octopuses
Lifespan:36 years
Unique Features:Conical head, slender nose, distinctive rough teeth
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Rough-Toothed Dolphin is a unique marine mammal known for its conical head and slender nose. These dolphins typically inhabit tropical to warm-temperate oceanic waters across the globe, especially in very deep waters. 

They are medium-sized, measuring between 7 and 9.3 feet long and weighing 198 and 341 pounds

Rough-toothed dolphins have a diverse diet. They often feed on large fish, houndfish, smelt, squids, and octopuses. 

They have a specialized feeding technique using their uneven, rough teeth to grip slippery prey like squids and octopuses. 

This is quite different from other dolphins, which typically have smooth teeth. Their special teeth are just right for the kind of food they eat. This is a great example of how their bodily features adapted well to their needs.

13. Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

Pacific White Sided Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
Habitat:Found throughout the temperate waters of the northern Pacific Ocean
Size:Males: Up to 8.0 feet (Up to 244 cm);
Females: Up to 7.5 feet (Up to 229 cm)
Weight:300–400 pounds (135–180 kg)
Diet:Preying on diverse species, such as squid and small schooling fish
Lifespan:36–40 years
Unique Features:Distinct three-color pattern, highly social, forming large groups, known for acrobatic displays
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Recognized by its unique three-color pattern, the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is another stunner on our list of dolphin types.

These dolphins are captivating and very friendly, often seen in large groups in the sea. They are also known for their impressive acrobatic abilities, like swimming fast next to boats.

In terms of longevity, these dolphins can live up to 40 years. Their diet consists mainly of squid and small fish, and they are smart in finding their food.

Another interesting part of their life is their social organization, which is important for survival. 

These dolphins form close-knit groups, typically swimming in groups ranging from 10 to 100 individuals. They are also observed caring for sick or injured members of their pod.

14. Commerson’s Dolphin

Commersons Dolphin
Scientific Name:Cephalorhynchus commersonii
Habitat:Found in the coastal waters of the southwest Atlantic Ocean
Size:3.9–5.6 feet (120–170 cm)
Weight:77–132 pounds (35–60 kg)
Diet:Feeds on fish, squid, and other marine invertebrates
Lifespan:Up to 18 years in the wild
Unique Features:Distinctive black and white patterning, known as skunk or panda dolphin
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Next up on our list is the Commerson’s Dolphin, a small, strikingly patterned type of dolphin. Its black and white color stands out, leading to its nicknames “skunk dolphin” or “panda dolphin.”

These dolphins can be found in the coastal waters of the southwest Atlantic, especially near Patagonia and the Falkland Islands. 

Commerson’s Dolphins are known for their lively swimming, often seen jumping waves and doing flips in the air. 

Their diet consists mainly of fish, squid, and other sea creatures. Studies have found that Commerson’s Dolphins have a detailed social structure, and they communicate using different sounds. 

It’s also believed that their distinct black-and-white pattern might help them hide or signal to each other in their groups.

Fun Fact: The Commerson’s Dolphin usually assembles in small groups of 2 to 3 individuals. They are among the few dolphin species that thrive in smaller pods.

15. Dusky Dolphin

Dusky Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lagenorhynchus obscurus
Habitat:Coastal waters in the Southern Hemisphere
Size:Females: 5.5–5.8 feet (167–178 cm);
Males: 5.4–5.7 feet (165–175 cm)
Weight:Females: 152–172 pounds (69–78 kg);
Males: 154–187 pounds (70–85 kg)
Diet:Primarily small fish and squid
Lifespan:18–25 years
Unique Features:Short snout, rounded dorsal fin, bluish-black back and tail, white underside
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Known for its distinctive physical features, the Dusky Dolphin is another fascinating dolphin on our list. This dolphin species is also known as the Fitzroy’s dolphin in Argentina. 

These dolphins stand out for their bluish-black back and tail, which contrasts sharply with their white underside. Their short snout and rounded dorsal fin also make them easy to recognize. 

Dusky Dolphins mainly inhabit coastal waters in the Southern Hemisphere. They have a diet primarily consisting of small fish and squid. 

Interestingly, Dusky Dolphins were part of an important study in the 1970s near Patagonia, Argentina. They were the subject of the first studies where scientists used photos to tell different dolphins apart. 

By recognizing each dolphin, researchers could learn a lot about how they behave and interact with each other. This study helped us understand the complex social lives of dolphins better.

16. Australian Snubfin Dolphin

Australian Snubfin Dolphin
Image credit: the_daily_kraken / Instagram
Scientific Name:Orcaella heinsohni
Habitat:Found in shallow waters off northern Australia and Papua New Guinea
Size:6.6–7.9 feet (200–240 cm)
Weight:251–293 pounds (114–133 kg)
Diet:Feasts on a variety of smaller fish species, cephalopods, and shrimp
Lifespan:30 years
Unique Features:Rounded head, lacks a beak, usually has a distinct neck crease
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

The Australian Snubfin Dolphin is a distinctive marine mammal known for its rounded head and absence of a beak, a feature that sets it apart from other dolphin species. 

These dolphins typically inhabit the shallow coastal waters and estuaries of northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. 

They are medium-sized, usually measuring between 6.6 and 7.9 feet in length and weighing around 251 to 293 pounds

Their diet mainly consists of smaller fish, cephalopods, and shrimp. With a lifespan of about 30 years, they are a long-lived species. 

A unique characteristic of the Australian Snubfin Dolphin is its distinct neck crease, which is uncommon in other dolphin species. 

Unfortunately, they are currently listed as vulnerable, primarily due to threats like habitat loss and entanglement in fishing gear.

17. White-Beaked Dolphin

White Beaked Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lagenorhynchus albirostris
Habitat:Found in colder waters of the North Atlantic, including one population in the English Channel
Size:7.6–10.2 feet (231–310 cm)
Weight:397–780 pounds (180–354 kg)
Diet:Feeds on fish, crustaceans, cephalopods
Lifespan:Around 40 years
Unique Features:Thick beak and large dorsal fins and dark gray or black body with white patches
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The White-Beaked Dolphin has a distinctive look, with a short, stout beak and a large dorsal fin that makes up about 15% of its body length.

Its body color combines dark gray or black, with white patches adding contrast. These dolphins live in the chilly North Atlantic waters, and there’s even a unique group in the English Channel. 

They are medium-sized, ranging from 7.6 to 10.2 feet in length, and weigh between 397 and 780 pounds. Their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. 

Known for living up to 40 years, these dolphins are very social and often seen in groups. They’re playful, too, frequently leaping from the water and showing off their acrobatic abilities.

Fun Fact: “Albirostris” is a Latin name meaning “white beak” or “snout.” It’s often used for animals, like certain birds and deer, with white beaks or snouts.

18. Atlantic Humpback Dolphin

Atlantic Humpback Dolphin
Scientific Name:Sousa teuszii
Habitat:Coastal areas of West Africa
Size:5.9–8.5 feet (180–260 cm)
Weight:220–330 pounds (100–150 kg)
Diet:Primarily consumes mullet and other fish species
Lifespan:Up to 40 years
Unique Features:Distinctive hump located in front of the dorsal fin; long, narrow, and pointed flippers
Conservation Status:Critically Endangered

The Atlantic Humpback Dolphin, which inhabits the coastal waters of West Africa, is easily recognized by the distinctive hump located in front of its dorsal fin. 

These dolphins are medium-sized, measuring between 5.9 and 8.5 feet long and weighing between 220 and 330 pounds. Their diet mainly consists of mullet and other fish. 

One of the most fascinating behaviors of Atlantic Humpback Dolphins is their cooperation with Mauritanian Imraguen fishermen

In this unique display of human-wildlife collaboration, the dolphins help herd fish into the fishermen’s nets. 

Unfortunately, this species faces serious threats and is currently classified as ‘Critically Endangered.’ This critical status is primarily due to habitat degradation and the impacts of fishing. 

19. Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin
Scientific Name:Sousa chinensis
Habitat:Found in warm waters above 59°F (15°C); typically in shallow areas less than 20 meters deep
Size:6.6–11.5 feet (200–350 cm)
Weight:440–660 pounds (200–300 kg)
Diet:Primarily consumes mullet and other fish species
Lifespan:Approximately 40 years
Unique Features:Commonly known as the Chinese white dolphin in certain areas and known for their pink color
Conservation Status:Vulnerable

Moving to shallow waters, we find the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin. This species, also known as the Chinese White Dolphin, thrives in warm waters above 59°F or 15°C

These dolphins, which live for about 40 years, can grow to 11.5 feet and weigh up to 660 pounds, feeding mainly on mullet and other fish.

The unique coloration of this dolphin species is one of their most notable features. When young, they have a mostly gray color, which gradually transforms into a striking pinkish-white as they age. 

These dolphins are also recognized for their friendly and curious nature, often approaching humans. They typically live near coastlines, making them a common focus for eco-tourism and marine research. 

However, their preference for shallow, nearshore habitats makes them susceptible to threats like habitat destruction and pollution caused by human activities.

20. Peale’s Dolphin

Peales Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lagenorhynchus australis
Habitat:Coastal waters around Tierra del Fuego, southernmost South America
Size:Around 6.9 feet (210 cm)
Weight:Around 253 pounds (115 kg)
Diet:Primarily demersal and bottom fish, octopus, and squid
Lifespan:Up to 25 years
Unique Features:Dark grey face and chin, predominantly black back with a single off-white stripe, short beak
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Peale’s Dolphin, found near Tierra del Fuego in southern South America, is a type of dolphin known for its unique looks and odd behaviors. 

For starters, these dolphins sport a dark grey face and chin with a predominantly black back and a single off-white stripe, along with a short beak.

What sets Peale’s Dolphins apart is their social behavior and communication. They form small, close-knit groups, often seen leaping and surfing in waves near shorelines. 

A fascinating aspect of their behavior is their coordinated hunting techniques. They forage for food in or around kelp beds and open waters, often engaging in group feeding strategies. 

These include forming straight lines or large circles or employing a ‘star-burst’ method where a big group surrounds their prey.

Interestingly, Peale’s Dolphins are one of the few dolphin species that don’t whistle.

21. Northern Right Whale Dolphin

Northern Right Whale Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lissodelphis borealis
Habitat:Offshore from California to Alaska, extending to Japan
Size:6.6–9.8 feet (200–300 cm)
Weight:132–253 pounds (60–115 kg)
Diet:Small mid-water and deep-sea fish, squid
Lifespan:Around 42 years
Unique Features:Short, well-defined beak; small, pointed flippers and tail flukes; no dorsal fin
Conservation Status:Least Concern

Inhabiting the northern Pacific Ocean, the Northern Right Whale Dolphin’s home extends from the coastlines of California and Alaska to Japan.

These dolphins are characterized by their sleek bodies, measuring between 6.6 and 9.8 feet in length, and they weigh from 132 to 253 pounds

One of their most unique features is the absence of a dorsal fin, which distinguishes them from other dolphin species. They are also recognized by their short, well-defined beak and small, pointed flippers and tail flukes. 

Another interesting aspect of Northern Right Whale Dolphins is their behavior of forming mixed-species groups. 

They are often seen swimming with other dolphin species, exhibiting social behaviors that are rare among other marine mammals.

22. Southern Right Whale Dolphin

Southern Right Whale Dolphin
Scientific Name:Lissodelphis peronii
Habitat:Found near the Sub-Antarctic Polar Front around Chatham and the Falkland Islands
Size:6.5–9.8 feet (200–300 cm)
Weight:130–200 pounds (60–90 kg)
Diet:Feeds on a variety of fish species and squid
Lifespan:Up to 40 years
Unique Features:Small and slender; lacks a dorsal fin
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin is an extraordinary dolphin species found near the Sub-Antarctic Polar Front and around the Chatham and Falkland Islands.

These dolphins have small, slender bodies that are both strong and graceful. One of their special features is that, like the Northern Right Whale, they don’t have dorsal fins, giving them a sleek and streamlined shape. 

They are often seen playing near boats, jumping and gliding next to them, which makes them a common sight for sea explorers.

One unusual thing about these dolphins is their varied skin colors. Some are completely white or totally black, which is not common for dolphins. 

In 1998, a very special dolphin was seen that seemed to be a mix of a Southern Right Whale Dolphin and a Dusky Dolphin. 

This dolphin, which was studied in detail in a 2001 research, had features of both types, potentially demonstrating another type of naturally occurring dolphin hybrid.

23. Hourglass Dolphin

Hourglass Dolphin
Image credit: bio_sarvikfagyott7833 / Instagram
Scientific Name:Lagenorhynchus cruciger
Habitat:Prefers offshore Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters, inhabiting colder open ocean regions
Size:5.25–5.9 feet (160–180 cm)
Weight:198–265 pounds (90–120 kg)
Diet:Primarily feeds on small fish, squid, and crustaceans
Lifespan:27–46 years
Unique Features:Known for the hourglass pattern on its sides
Conservation Status:Least Concern

The Hourglass Dolphin is a unique sea creature known for its hourglass-like pattern on its sides. This pattern is what gives the dolphin its scientific name, as “cruciger” in Latin means “cross-bearing.”

Size-wise, they are quite small, with a length of about 5.25 to 5.9 feet and a weight of around 198 to 265 pounds

Hourglass Dolphins eat small fish, squid, and crustaceans, and they are known for living a long life, sometimes up to 46 years

Fun Fact: Hourglass Dolphins are the only small dolphins that live in the extremely cold waters south of the Antarctic Convergence. They are often seen jumping through the waves in front of ships and whales.

24. Tucuxi

Scientific Name:Sotalia fluviatilis
Habitat:Rivers of the Amazon basin, often near low current confluences and river junctions
Size:4.9–5.2 feet (150–160 cm)
Weight:99–121 pounds (45–55 kg)
Diet:Primarily fish and crustaceans
Lifespan:Up to 35 years
Unique Features:Features muted tones of blue and grey, lighter belly in shades of ivory, grey, or pink; low triangular dorsal fin; genetically related to marine dolphins
Conservation Status:Endangered

The Tucuxi dolphin is a small type of dolphin that mainly lives in rivers, especially in the Amazon Basin.

These dolphins are known for their distinctive colors, a blend of soft blue and grey, with their bellies being lighter in shades of ivory, grey, or pink. They also have a notable low, triangular-shaped fin on their back.

What’s interesting about these dolphins is that they are genetically closer to marine dolphins than to other river dolphins. 

In a recent article I came across, I learned that some experts believe that Tucuxis began entering freshwater rivers in South America only a few hundred thousand years ago.

This is quite different from other river dolphins, which have been in these waters for a much longer time.

This indicates a unique evolutionary path for the Tucuxis. Their stronger resemblance to ocean-dwelling dolphins, rather than other river dolphins, is a topic that is interesting to explore.

25. Guiana Dolphin

Guiana Dolphin
Image credit: thaispmacedo / Instagram
Scientific Name:Sotalia guianensis
Habitat:Coastal shallow waters and estuaries along the Atlantic coast of South and Central America
Size:Females: Up to 7.2 feet (220 cm);
Males: Up to 6.2 feet (190 cm)
Weight:Up to 267 pounds (121 kg)
Diet:Feeds on a variety of fish, shrimps, and squid
Lifespan:Up to 30 years
Unique Features:Known for their light bluish-grey back, light grey belly, slightly hooked triangular dorsal fin, moderate-length beak
Conservation Status:Near Threatened

The Guiana Dolphin is a unique sea mammal found in shallow waters and river mouths along the Atlantic coast of South and Central America. 

These dolphins stand out with their light bluish-grey back and pale grey belly. They have a slightly curved, triangular fin on their back and a moderately long nose. 

Guiana dolphins are average in size, with females growing up to 7.2 feet long and males up to 6.2 feet.

In a 2014 study, researchers discovered that Guiana Dolphins in Brazil use unique ‘signature whistles,’ much like human names. 

This study, the first to use photo-identification for these dolphins, recorded 847 whistles and linked specific sounds to individual dolphins. 

The findings revealed that these signature whistles are likely used for individual identification and communication. 

While this trait is not unique to just this species of dolphins, it highlights the complex social structures of Guiana Dolphins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cute dolphins posing for the camera

How Many Types of Dolphins Exist?

There are about 40 types of dolphins. They come in different sizes and live in various parts of the world, including oceans and rivers.

What Are the Largest Dolphins?

The largest dolphins are Killer Whales, also known as Orcas. Despite their name, they are a type of dolphin, not whales. They can be up to 32 feet long.

What Is the Most Common Species of Dolphin?

The most common species of dolphin is the Bottlenose Dolphin. These are the dolphins you often see in movies and shows. They live in many oceans around the world.

What Is the Rarest Dolphin?

The title of the rarest dolphin in the world is often given to the Maui dolphin, a subspecies of the Hector’s dolphin. 

The Maui dolphin is critically endangered and is found only off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Their numbers are extremely low, with estimates suggesting fewer than 100 individuals remaining.

What Is the Most Aggressive Dolphin?

The most aggressive dolphin is generally considered to be the Orca or killer whale. While they are intelligent and can be friendly, they are also top predators in the ocean.

So, did any of these dolphins capture your curiosity? Do you have any questions about their unique characteristics? Let us know what you think about these different types of dolphins by leaving a comment below!

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