7 Fun Facts about Risso’s Dolphins

Common Marine Mammals
bottlenose dolphin breaching water on Long Beach whale watching cruise
8 Common Bottlenose Dolphin Facts
two common dolphins spotted by harbor breeze LA whale watching cruises

Dolphins are one of the most intelligent creatures in the sea, and when people think of these smart animals they often think of bottlenose or common dolphins. Here at Harbor Breeze Cruises, we see plenty of bottlenose and common dolphins on nearly every charter. Another lesser-known dolphin that we encounter quite often is the Risso’s dolphin. When we encounter Risso’s dolphins on our cruises, we are often met with a litany of questions from patrons, as they have not seen Risso’s dolphins before. One of the most common questions we are asked is, “Why do the Risso’s dolphins have scars? Below we will answer this question as well as provide seven fun Risso’s dolphin facts.

1. Unique Appearance

One of the most distinctive features of Risso’s dolphins is the scarring across their bodies. We are often asked on our cruises, “Why do Risso’s dolphins have scars?”. The answer to this question is that when a Risso’s dolphin is scratched, cut, or injured, they do not heal with the same skin pigmentation. In fact, the healing tissue essentially has no pigmentation at all. Meaning that the Risso’s scars are especially pronounced. Another Risso’s dolphin fact regarding their appearance is that their color changes with age. Juvenile Risso’s are nearly black in color while older Risso’s are much lighter in tone.

2. Length

In terms of size, the Risso’s dolphin is fairly comparable to other dolphin species. The average length of one of these dolphins is between 8 and 13 feet. For our readers that utilize the metric system that is between 2.5 and 4 meters.

3. Weight

A third Risso’s dolphin fact is that their average weight range is between 660 and 1100 pounds. To put into context an average male human is only approximately 180 pounds. We, humans, are quite small compared to these incredible animals.

4. Range

Similar to other dolphin species, the Risso’s dolphins have an incredibly large habitat range. Risso’s prefers warmer, moderate water temperatures. They are common in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Mediterranean sea. 

5. Population

Unlike many other marine mammal species, the Risso’s dolphin has a very stable global population. Risso’s population numbers are believed to be several hundred thousand worldwide with a dense population in the waters surrounding Japan. The most widely accepted population number for US Pacific coast populations is approximately 20,000 dolphins.

6. Teeth

The teeth of Risso’s dolphins are also quite unique. Most dolphin species have teeth on their upper and lower jaws. Risso’s only have teeth on their bottom jaws. The lack of upper teeth leads Risso’s to primarily swallow their food with one of their favorite foods being squid.

7. Life Cycle

Risso’s dolphins are believed to live to at least 35 years of age and reach maturity when they are about 8 feet in length. The gestation period for Risso’s is between 13 and 14 months which means that female Risso’s give birth to a calf nearly once a year.

Book a Whale Watching Cruise Today

Now that you’ve learned some Risso’s dolphin facts,  your interest in getting out on the water and seeing some Risso’s dolphins and other marine mammals for yourself has probably peaked. Well if you’re in the Los Angeles / Long Beach area or planning to visit soon, Harbor Breeze Yacht Charters and Cruises is the perfect opportunity for you. As a top Los Angeles whale watching operator, our whale watching cruises take families out to sea on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, searching for the ocean’s most beautiful creatures – whales, dolphins, and sea lions included! For more information regarding times, prices, and more, please visit us online. We can’t wait to see you on board – book a cruise today!


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