Ten of the Worlds Most Amazing and Unusual Types of Dolphins

When you close your eyes and imagine a picture of a dolphin you are probably seeing the common bottlenose dolphin (The grey one). But there are hundreds of different Dolphin species to celebrate and some of them look nothing like their common bottlenose dolphin relatives. In fact, it is hard to think of them as dolphins at all…


 

Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)
Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)

Killer Whale (Orcinus orca)

Before you think I have got confused and titled this post wrongly a Killer Whale (despite its namesake) really is part of the oceanic dolphin family. In fact, they are not the only types of dolphins that have a “whale” name as pilot whales are also part of the oceanic dolphin family. That of course makes the Killer Whale a very unusual type of dolphin indeed and it is also the biggest of all the dolphin species.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis)
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis)

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins (Stenella frontalis)

It is not often you will see a spotted dolphin unless you live in the Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic Ocean. What is noticeable about these types of dolphin is that they are not born with spots all over their bodies. Newborn calves are grey with white bellies right up until they break adolescence.

Māui's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui)
Māui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui)

Māui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui)

These dolphins don’t look all that different than many common dolphins…but they are considered the world‘s rarest and smallest known subspecies of dolphin! In fact, they are just over 1-meter long meaning most fish in the same area are bigger than them making them a target by many other animals and indeed fishing boats.

Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)
Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)

Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)

This is not only the largest species of river dolphin, but it is also one of the most colourful with some young calfs being almost bright pink. They are a species of toothed whale that is pretty easy to spot even in the muddy waters of the Amazon.

Dusky Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)
Dusky Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)

Dusky Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus)

If you are one of the lucky few to see one of these oddly coloured species of dolphins in coastal waters of the southern hemisphere, you will probably see lots of them as they do tend to travel in pods that number in the thousands.

Striped Dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba)
Striped Dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba)

Striped Dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba)

While it is the strips going down their bodies that draws my interest to this type of dolphin, it is also said to be one of the most playful species of dolphin and the species most likely to perform naturally learnt ticks like out of water flips and barrel rolls under the water, all thanks to their high levels of energy and natural curiosity to do such things.

Australian Snubfin Dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni)
Australian Snubfin Dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni)

Australian Snubfin Dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni)

It is of course the skull and the fins that really show off the differences with this type. Often found off the northern coasts of Australia it was thought to be a closely related species of dolphin called the Irrawaddy dolphin, but it was then classed as an individual species in 2005.

Peale's Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis)
Peale’s Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis)

Peale’s Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis)

The small species of dolphin is often found in the waters around South America and is most noticeable thanks to its single white stripe running down its back. While they do hang around in relatively small pods they are classed as common and under no current threat of extinction.

Araguaian River Dolphin (Inia araguaiaensis)
Araguaian River Dolphin (Inia araguaiaensis)

Araguaian River Dolphin (Inia araguaiaensis)

While not as pink as the Amazon River Dolphin this dolphin is mostly pink in its underside, but it is of course its big snout that really makes it stand out from other species of dolphin. But one other thing that makes this species so amazing is that it has a dorsal ridge rather than a fin on its back!

Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)
Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

It is not the crazy looking body scarring that makes this dolphin stand out, it is because this species is the only dolphin species in the world to be named in the genus “Grampus” which refers to its body scaring that is caused mostly from social interaction alone! While other species of dolphin do have these same scares it is never as apparent as the Risso’s Dolphin.

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3 Comments

  1. Yuna April 1, 2019
  2. Yuna March 31, 2019

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