What to Know About Dolphin Speed

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Seeing dolphins in real life is an incredible experience. But not many people realize how fast these majestic creatures swim. You may also be wondering “how fast are dolphins?”. This post will explore how dolphins move through the water and analyze their speeds. We’ll also talk about some of the unique adaptations that dolphins have developed to help them swim even faster.

How Fast are Dolphins?

The oceanic dolphin family, or Delphinidae, encompasses a wide range of different dolphins. Some are more streamlined, while others are fatter and rounder. Nearly 40 species of dolphins fall into this family, and each can reach impressive speeds. Here are some of our favorite examples of dolphin top speed:

Bottlenose Dolphin: 

Perhaps the most recognizable dolphin, the bottlenose, is often seen performing acrobatics in shows. They tend to be fairly large, with adults averaging about 6-12 feet in length and weighing more than 350 pounds. Despite their size, bottlenose dolphins are relatively fast swimmers, typically reaching speeds of up to 22 miles per hour. That’s many times faster than the average human, who can swim only about 5 miles per hour.


Orcas are the largest dolphin species, earning them the nickname “Killer whale.” Although they look quite different from their smaller cousins, orcas share many of the same traits and behaviors. They are also swift swimmers, capable of reaching speeds of up to 34 miles per hour. Considering orcas are around 30 feet long and weigh over 6 tons, this is quite an impressive feat!

Common Dolphin: 

Common dolphins, or Delphinus delphis, are the most populous dolphin species, with 6 million individuals in the wild. They tend to be smaller than orcas and bottlenose dolphins but are also faster swimmers. In fact, the common dolphin’s top speed is roughly 37 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest mammals in the world. In other words, they could comfortably keep up with your car while you drive down the street!

About Dolphin Speed

It’s worth noting that while dolphins can reach impressive speeds in the water, they don’t necessarily swim as fast all the time. Many dolphins have adapted specific swimming habits to conserve energy and travel more efficiently when needed. A cruising dolphin’s speed is only a fraction of a dolphin’s top speed.

Dolphins only increase the pace when they need to catch prey, evade predators, or otherwise move quickly through the water. As a result of these adaptive swimming techniques, dolphins can cover long distances at relatively high speeds while still conserving energy.

However, dolphins aren’t just fast swimmers – they also have several unique adaptations that allow them to reach such impressive speeds.

Boat Following

Another common swimming trend among dolphins is following boats. You might be surprised to learn that there is a scientific reason behind this behavior. Beyond insatiable curiosity, dolphins use the wake created by boats to make it easier for them to swim. Tailing behind a boat allows dolphins to maintain higher speeds for longer periods, covering more ground with less energy expended.


Finally, another reason that dolphins are such fast swimmers is due to their unique anatomy. Dolphins have developed several features that help them move quickly through the water, including fins and flukes, which act as powerful propellers and steering mechanisms. They also have streamlined torpedo-shaped bodies that minimize drag and allow them to quickly push through the water at extreme speeds.

But most impressive of all is the dolphin’s mighty tail. A dolphin’s flukes are so powerful that they can propel the animal through the water and launch it out of the water completely!

Visit Harbor Breeze Today

We understand that these dolphin speeds may sound unfathomable, but they are the reality for many dolphins. If you need to see it to believe it, then there’s no better place to visit than Harbor Breeze. At Harbor Breeze, we offer dolphin tours and encounters that let you interact with these incredible creatures up close.

Our boat tours on the Pacific Ocean let you marvel at whales and seals, not to mention the fast-swimming dolphins surrounding you. Visit our website today to book your spot and experience the speed of these magnificent marine mammals for yourself!


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