What Are the Types of Dolphins?

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Dolphins are one of the most highly recognizable marine mammals that can be found in oceans worldwide. There are an estimated 43 different types of dolphins in existence, and these sea animals are close relatives of the whale.  Dolphins are known to be highly intelligent, believed to engage in complex though much like humans. From the common dolphin to the bottlenose dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin to the killer whale, there are a lot of different types of dolphins to explore. Read the following information about dolphins exploring a few of the most common types of dolphins found in the earth’s waters.

Different Breeds of Dolphins

Common Dolphin:

The common dolphin is a name that refers to two different species of dolphins, which include the short-beaked common dolphin and the long-beaked common dolphin. Both types of dolphins grow to be medium in size, reaching up to 8ft in length, though averaging closer to 6 ft. The weight of a male short-beaked common dolphin will typically fall around 440 pounds, while a male long-beaked common dolphin can range anywhere from 170 to 500 pounds. These two types of dolphins differ primarily in the length of their beaks, as is indicated by their names. The common dolphin will be found with a dark coloring on its back with a white abdomen. A unique feature of this dolphin is the hourglass-like shape found on the sides of the body.

The common dolphin can be spotted in waters around the world, including the east Atlantic waters, west Atlantic waters, as well as Pacific and Australian waters.  While long-beak common dolphins prefer to inhabit more shallow waters, short-beak common dolphins will live in depths as deep as 600 feet. The common dolphin maintains a diverse diet that features squid and a wide array of fishes.  Though not usually a migratory species, these types of dolphins may move around in search of food.

These types of dolphins will generally live for up to 20 years, having reached sexual maturity by the age of 7 for the females, and between the ages of 7 and 12 for the males.

Bottlenose Dolphins:

Those who have had the unique experience of swimming with dolphins or have witnessed an aquatic show featuring dolphins have likely already seen a bottlenose dolphin. These are among the most widely recognized types of dolphins, known for their high level of intelligence, charisma, and ability to learn and perform complicated tricks.

These beautiful sea mammals can be identified by their light to dark grey coloring on their back that fades into the cream coloring of their stomachs.  The type of dolphins received is name due to the pronounced beak that can reach up to 3 inches in length. Within the mouth of the bottlenose dolphin are 76-98 conically-shaped teeth. While coastal bottlenose dolphins are usually smaller in size and length, reaching between 8.2 to 8.9 feet, offshore types of dolphins are often heavier and longer, reaching lengths of up to 12 feet.

On average, the bottlenose dolphin will live for 20 years, though the maximum lifespan, achieved by 1-2% of these types of dolphins, is between y60-65 years. Between the ages of 9-13 years, male bottlenose dolphins will reach sexual maturity. Female bottlenose dolphins, on the other hand, reach sexual maturing typically between the ages of 5-12 years.

These types of dolphins can be found in temperate and tropical marine waters around the world, from the Pacific waters of Japan, to the Atlantic waters of Norway, to the Indian Ocean of the coasts of South Africa and Australia.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins:

Unlike many other different types of dolphins, the Atlantic spotted dolphin population appears to be concentrated to a single location: the Atlantic Ocean.  Within the Atlantic, however, there are two distinguishable populations of the Atlantic spotted dolphin which include the coastal variety and the offshore Atlantic spotted dolphins. Atlantic spotted dolphins travel in pods, and are very fast swimmers.  They are described as being an acrobatic species, able to leap out of the water and ride the waves of passing boats. These types of dolphins engage in complex social structures, and may even be found in mixed groups alongside bottlenose dolphins.

As their name indicates, the Atlantic spotted dolphins can be identified by the spots featured on their backs and bellies. The number of spots found on these types of dolphins will typically increase with age, with darker spots located on the stomach of the dolphins, and lighter spots featured on their backs.  Additional characteristics of the Atlantic spotted dolphin include their white-tipped beaks, curved flippers, and dark grey coloring of the back.

The diet of the Atlantic spotted dolphin is varied, and includes cephalopods, small fish, and benthic invertebrates.  They can grow to be between 5 and 7.5 feet in length, weighing in at over 300 pounds. These types of dolphins are believed to have a lifespan between 30 and 40 years.

Types of Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean

There is a wide range of dolphin species found in the Atlantic Ocean. Some dolphin species that inhabit the Atlantic Ocean include:

  • Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin: The bottlenose dolphin is found in all water regions, except polar regions. In the Atlantic Ocean specifically, they are most abundant off the coast of the United States, from Florida up to New England. However, they can also be found from Norway to South Africa as well.
  • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin: This species can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, inhabiting regions between the coast of New Jersey down to Panama.
  • Atlantic White-sided Dolphin: The Atlantic white-sided dolphin also calls the Atlantic Ocean home. They can be found in the north Atlantic waters, between Greenland and Cape Cod.
  • Common Dolphin: Common dolphin species, including short-beaked and long-beaked dolphins can be found in the northern Atlantic Ocean and southern Atlantic Ocean, respectively.

Types of Dolphins in the Pacific Ocean

While there is a wide range of dolphins that can be found in the Atlantic, many people often wonder: are there dolphins in the Pacific Ocean? Some dolphin species that call the Pacific Ocean home include:

  • Pacific White-Sided Dolphin: The Pacific white-sided dolphin, as the name indicates, inhabits the cool water in the North Pacific Ocean, including regions of Japan, North America, Alaska, and Baja Mexico.
  • Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins: Bottlenose dolphins of the Pacific Ocean can be found from Japan to Australia and Southern Cali to Chile.
  • Spinner Dolphins: This dolphin species prefers warmer waters and can be found in the Pacific coast of Central America and even Thailand as well.
  • Chinese White Dolphin: This species is found in the Pacific waters close to the shores of Southeast Asia, the Indonesian Islands, and northern Australia.
  • Hector’s Dolphin: The Hector’s dolphin is only native to the Pacific Waters near New Zealand.

The Harbor Breeze Cruise Experience

For an up close and personal experience with whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, we invite you to a Long Beach whale watching and Los Angeles whale watching cruise with Harbor Breeze – an unforgettable trip the entire family will love. We have experienced and enthusiastic naturalists aboard each and every trip that will narrate and educate you on the characteristics and lifestyles of these majestic sea mammals. Contact us today for ticket information!

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