Not only are dolphins majestic creates, but they are also playful, emotionally intelligent, agile, and socially skilled.

But possibly most impressive of all is that in nature, we find an extensive range of dolphin species, with each species possessing its own unique set of character traits and distinctive identities. In total, there are currently 42 different species of dolphins, and 7 species of porpoises known to man.

Fun Facts About Dolphins

  • Even though dolphins are marine animals, they are mammals. This means they live by breathing air above the surface of the water. Also, they give birth to live offspring.
  • A female dolphin will carry her young for between 9 and 16 months. Just like humans, mothers feed their young on milk. Offspring typically stay with their maternal families for life.
  • While dolphins do not chew their food, they may break fish and squid into smaller pieces before swallowing.
  • Dolphins have pointed teeth. The number of teeth varies from species to species. The Risso dolphin, for example, has 14 teeth, and the Spinner dolphin has a neat set of 240.
  • The waterways of South America and Asia are populated mainly by the four river dolphin species.
  • Dolphins have a wide range of “noises” used for everything from communication to echolocation skills. Examples include whistles, squeals, squeaks, and clicks.
  • Smaller dolphin species have a lifespan of up to 20 years, while their larger counterparts, like orcas, can live to the ripe old age of 80 – and even longer.
  • The most endangered of all dolphin species is Maui’s dolphin, which is a sub-species of the New Zealand dolphin. Scientists estimate that there are now fewer than 50 remaining.

About The Different Species

The 49 species of dolphins and porpoise are grouped into six “families”. These are: the four river dolphin families, each of which contains only a single species, the oceanic dolphin family, and the porpoise family.

Interesting to note is that there are eight dolphin species featuring the word “whale”. These include killer whales, pilot whales, melon-headed whales, and false killer whales.

Where Do Dolphins Call Home?

Dolphins occur not only in oceans and seas, but also in rivers. While some prefer shallower water, others prefer to live either in coastal areas or far away from the coast.

Most species prefer temperate or even tropical warmer waters. This is because they are warm-blooded mammals. Warmer environments make it easier for them to regulate the temperature of their bodies.

Dolphin Or Fish?

Dolphins can easily be differentiated from fish for a number of reasons.

Even though some characteristics, such as streamlined bodies and living in water, are shared, dolphins need oxygen to survive. Without oxygen, just like humans, they will drown.

Also, whereas a fish’s tail moves from side to side, a dolphin’s moves up and down. This is because dolphins were once land mammals with legs tucked underneath their bodies.

Another key difference is that dolphins are warm-blooded creatures, while fish are cold-blooded.

The Biggest Of Them All

The orca, or killer whale, is the biggest species of dolphins known to man.

Larger males tend to grow up to 9.8 metres, while weighing up to 10,000kg.