Fish Identification: Dolphins (Part II)
In Part I one of this series we covered the more common kinds of dolphins. These included the common dolphin, the bottlenose, the right whale, and the killer whale (orca).
Today brings us to the less common families. They’re not necessarily endangered, but these families tend to be more localized to specific regions.
Surprise, surprise. Humpback dolphins are distinguished by the noticeable hump along their backs. Additionally, they have an elongated dorsal fin.
The location of the humpback depends on the individual species. The Pacific humpback dolphin has a range throughout the Indo-Pacific region around China and Australia. The Indian humpback can be found in the Indian Ocean and along the eastern coast of Africa. The Atlantic dolphin lives along the western coast of northern Africa.
Spotted dolphins are found in tropical and temperate climates across the globe. As usual, individual species are distinguished by their region. These include the Atlantic, spinner, and the pantropical spotted dolphins. The striped dolphin counts itself as a member of the spotted family (go figure).
Spotted dolphins are born spotless, and gradually develop spots as they get older. The family is sometimes also called bridled dolphins.
The Tucuxi (pronounced “too-koo-shi”) is found along the eastern coast of South America and along the Amazon River basin. Despite this river habitat, they are classified as an oceanic dolphin.
Although they are in separate dolphin genera, Tucuxi strongly resemble the bottlenose dolphin, but maybe slightly smaller. They live in small pods of 10-15 dolphins and are thought to be quite active, like the bottlenose, often breaching out of the water.
Commerson’s, Chilean, Haviside’s, and Hector’s dolphin
These four species are classified into the same genus (cephalorhynchus, for you taxonomists out there). They are very similar physically, with small blunt noses and white patches.
Commerson’s is found near the southern tip of South America, Chilean along the western coast of South America, Haviside’s along the South African coast, Hector’s dolphin is found only in New Zealand.
For those keeping count, that’s 8 genera, out of 17. Keep an eye out in the future for a Part III.
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