The Different Types of Dolphins

types of dolphins

There are more than 40 types of dolphins. Dolphins types are grouped into 2 categories

  1. Oceanic dolphins
  2. River dolphins

Oceanic Dolphins

Melon-Headed Whale – Despite their name, these “whales” are dolphins. They are also known as mask and are rather gray in color and have a dark grey face. They are called melon-headed since their head is round-shaped. But their head is not round as that of pygmy killer whales. It swims fast, making short low dives off the ocean surface, splashing plenty of water.

Killer Whale – Another dolphin with a “whale” name, they are the most powerful dolphin because of their size as well as their strength. They capable of taking down seals easily which is important because of the significant amount of food which they can eat every day.

Pilot Whale – They are two types of pilot whale: the Long-Finned Pilot Whale and the Short-Finned Pilot Whale. They are black in color and can grow up to 25 feet and weigh about 5,000 pounds. They are the most social types of dolphins. Moreover, they are susceptible to pollution in their environment.

White-Beaked Dolphin – They are plump looking and can grow up to 3 meters. They are black or gray in color. Contrary to their name, they have gray-dark gray beaks, but a white abdomen. They are rather acrobatic and appear to have an exceptional ‘rooster tail splash’ when swimming quickly.

Striped Dolphin – They are easily distinguished by means of the white and blue stripes on their body. They have the highest populations of all the species of dolphins. They are great leapers and leap to a heights of over 24 feet.

Black Dolphin – They are small and grow just up to 1.4 meters. They are the darkest of all species of dolphins and have a white color around the belly and throat region. They have a tan brown coloration while undersea.

Heaviside’s Dolphin –  They are very famous and you can get them down the southern Africa’s Atlantic coasts. Their dorsal fins are triangular in shape and have a rather less conical head compared to other common dolphins. Their head and thorax is gray in color.

Rough-Toothed Dolphin – They prefer deeper locations and therefore are hard to see them the ocean. They may weigh around 350 pounds and grow up to 8.5 feet long. Their head is small and have a long beak.

Dusky Dolphin – They reside in cooler water bodies as compared to other types of dolphins. They may also be found down the coastal regions.
Risso’s dolphin: They have square shaded head. Their upper jaw doesn’t have any teeth; however, their bottom jaw has a number of peg-like teeth.

Bottlenose Dolphin – They are very popular and are the most loved types of dolphins. They always appear to be smiling making them very attractive as they have a curved-shaped face which turns upward. They can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh around 1,100 pounds.

Hector’s Dolphin – They are very rare type of dolphins. They are also the smallest marine dolphins. Their body is torpedo-shaped and they have a very stocky short body. It is interesting that they lack a beak while all the other types of dolphins do have. They are light gray in color but have a white belly.

Additional types of dolphins include:

  • Peale’s dolphin
  • Long-snouted spinner dolphin
  • Clymene dolphin
  • Short-beaked common dolphin
  • Long-beaked common dolphin
  • Commerson’s dolphin
  • Pantropical dolphin
  • Hourglass dolphin
  • Frasier’s dolphin
  • Irrawaddy dolphin
  • Atlantic humpback dolphin
  • Atlantic spotted dolphin
  • Atlantic white-sided dolphin
  • Pacific white-sided dolphin
  • Southern right whale dolphin
  • Pygmy killer whale
  • Northern right whale dolphin
  • False killer whale

River Dolphins

There are 5 types of river dolphins:

  • Amazon River dolphin
  • Ganges river dolphins
  • Yangtze River dolphins
  • Mekong river dolphins
  • La plata dolphins

There are only four types of dolphins that can thrive in freshwater rivers, which include the first four types. The last type, La plata dolphin, reside in salt-water estuaries. River dolphins have very large beaks, which might form 1/5 of the whole body length, as compared to oceanic dolphins. They can be found in range of colors, such as black, pink, yellow, white, gray or brown. They also have exceptionally well-developed brains as well as short, wide flippers. In addition, they don’t require vision since they reside in muddy water.

That should cover all of the dolphins out there. If you want to discuss dolphins, or remind me of one I’ve left off the list, feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. I have so much exeperince with the Rough toothed dolphin . i am going to do so much research on them . OMg THANK YOU

  2. Interesting. Since the age of ten, I knew a lot about dolphins as well as the fact that orcas are dolphins, and are distinctly cousins of whales. Now I can expand my knowledge on the Hourglass Dolphin, and many others. I appreciate this website very much!

  3. This has been so helpful!!! I’m writing a research paper on the different types of dolphins and this has been so incredibly helpful to me. Thanks to much for the resourceful information!!!

  4. shanaynaynaynaynay March 9, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    ummm there is actually 43 types of dolphins

  5. Hello, I am a marine educator and wanted to make some flash cards of all the dolphins
    that are out there for education purposes. The beginning of your website it said that they are more then 40 dolphins. There are 44 different types, that includes rivers and the one that was discovered in 2011. But your list only includes 35. My question is do you know what the other 11 are? Please get back to me thank you!

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