Types of Dolphins You Will See in the Wild

You can see many types of dolphins when wild dolphin watching. Here are some of my favorites with some fun dolphin facts.

Bottlenose Dolphin

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well-known and well-loved types of dolphins. Their habitat ranges from shallow coastal communities to deep ocean waters.

They have adapted over time to better suit their environments. Bottlenose dolphins living in warmer temperatures tend to be smaller and have slightly larger flippers. Their size helps them move quickly and the flippers cool them down when they overheat. Bottlenose dolphins living in colder waters are larger, which helps them to retain heat. These are the dolphins commonly seen in dolphinariums (captive dolphin programs), and are also the most likely ones you will meet if wild dolphin watching in Florida.

Spinner Dolphin

The fun-lovers of the group, the spinner dolphin is best known for their amazing acrobatics. They are long and slender and frequently perform aerial acts. Spinner dolphins are generally an inshore dolphin, but some members of the species do live full-time in deep ocean waters. A common place to see spinner dolphins are the islands of Hawaii.

Spinner dolphins.

Spinner dolphins (Wiki)

Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin

Since not everyone watches dolphins in the warm tropical areas of the world, I thought I would mention the Atlantic white-sided dolphins. (I have a fondness for them as two of these dolphins showed up right behind my house several years ago. That is a sad story for another time.) 

This type of dolphin is attractive and distinctive. They have a large dorsal fin and a wide white to light yellow “stripe” running along their sides (hence the name). They are slightly bigger than most other dolphins as they live in the cooler waters of the North Atlantic.  These are dolphins that would be frequently seen on a New England whale watch.

Dusky Dolphin

One of the most playful of all dolphins, the dusky dolphin is commonly found off Kaikoura, New Zealand. Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with wild dusky dolphins. This dolphin’s appearance is also distinct. It is dark gray on top and on its fins, and white on the sides and bottom. Another social creature, dusky dolphins live in pods that number in the upper hundreds.

Dusky Dolphin, at Kaikoura, New Zealand. Photo...

Dusky Dolphin (Wiki)

Common Dolphin

The common dolphin is beautiful. This type has an unusual color and body marking pattern. Their top side is dark gray or black, their belly is white, and both sides consists of a double panel of both yellow and gray. One of the most social of the species, common dolphins frequently travel in pods\herds that number in the hundreds and sometimes thousands! These types of dolphins are also known for their acrobatics, love of bow riding, and deep diving ability. One great dolphin watching spot is in the waters between the mid to southern coast of California.

Common Dolphins in the Goban Spur South of Ire...

Common Dolphins (Wiki)


About wherethedolphinsswim

I've been vacationing with wild dolphins for more than 20 years. You can do it too!
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One Response to Types of Dolphins You Will See in the Wild

  1. Pingback: Pink Dolphins, Oh My! | Where the Dolphins Swim

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