The World Of Dolphins – Everything you Want to Know About Them

Dolphin Facts

  •          Dolphins are believed to be the second most intelligent animal after humans
  •          The Killer Whale is actually a type of dolphin
  •          Bottlenose is the most common type of dolphin
  •          Female dolphins are called cows, males are called bulls and young dolphins are called calves
  •          Dolphins often display a playful attitude which makes them popular with humans
  •          Dolphins breathe through their blowhole which is at the top of their heads
  •          Dolphins communicate with each other by clicking and whistling
  •          Dolphins have excellent eyesight and hearing for finding the exact location of objects in the water such as schools of fish
  •          Dolphins eat around 10-30 kg of fish a day
  •          Many dolphins face the threat of extinction, often directly as a result of human behaviour. The Yangtze River dolphin is an example of a dolphin species which has now become extinct.

Top 5 places in the world to dive with dolphins

          Western Australia, Shark Bay

          Western Australia, Shoalwater Island

          Bahamas, Bimini Island

          New Zealand, Kaikoura

          Hawaii, Big Island, Waikoloa is able to offer you diving holidays to each of these destinations.

Dolphins & Porpoise

Dolphins and porpoises are often very playful and warm our hearts with their characterful faces. Marine species are the most well-known, but there are several species that live in freshwater rivers. All are air-breathing, warm-blooded mammals that nurse their young. The difference between a dolphin and a porpoise is that dolphins have longer snouts, bigger mouths, more curved dorsal fins and longer, leaner bodies than those of a porpoise.


Top places to see dolphins in the UK

You don’t have to go out to sea to spot dolphins around our coast.  During the summertime dolphins often swim closer to the shores of the UK and this can offer good opportunities to watch their playful antics as they leap in and out of the blue sea.
As with all wildlife watching there’s no guarantee of a sighting, but here are a few locations where you have a good chance of a seeing dolphins from land.

  •          England, Dorset – Durlston Head
  •          England, Devon – Prawle Point
  •          England, Cornwall – Porthgwarra
  •          Wales, Cardigan – Cardigan Bay
  •          Scotland, Inverness – Moray Firth
  •          Scotland, Wester Ross – Loch Gairloch
  •          Scotland, Black Isle – Chanonry runs UK trips that often includes the chance to dive with Dolphins.

Dangers & Threats

One of the biggest threats to dolphins is accidental entanglement in fishing gear, which can cause them to either drown or choke. Known as bycatch, this causes the deaths of more than 300,000 cetaceans every year. 

The freshwater dolphin is threatened by chemical pollution in rivers, lakes and estuaries, and at risk from man-made structures like dams and barrages.

There are fewer than 100 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River of Southeast Asia, and researchers fear the numbers are shrinking even further. These small dolphins have been plummeting in recent decades mainly because of dangerous fishing practices. Numerous dolphins die each year after getting entangled or trapped in gillnets used by local fishermen.

When dolphins are feeding, that target is often a bottom-dwelling fish, though they also eat shrimp and squid. They were once widely hunted for meat and oil (used for lamps and cooking), but today only limited dolphin fishing occurs. However, dolphins are threatened by commercial fishing for other species, like tuna, and can become mortally entangled in nets and other fishing equipment.

Most Common Sea Dolphins

  • Common Dolphin / Delphinus

The common dolphin has a creamy yellow hourglass pattern along the side of its body, with a dark grey back, tail and flippers and a cream coloured belly. In Hebridean waters, common dolphins are usually found in groups of about 10 to 30 individuals, however sometimes can be found in large, active groups of several hundred. They all fast swimmers, reaching speeds of 15 mph. Common dolphins are very acrobatic and can leap clear of the water. Their high-pitched vocalisations can, sometimes, be heard by humans above the surface of the water. These dolphins are inquisitive and sociable animals and often approach boats to ride the bow wave. Common dolphins with their young calves have been observed during the summer months in the Hebrides.

Staus: Vulnerable

Length: 3 metres

Diet: Variety of fish, squid, shrimp

  • Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins have curved mouths give the appearance of a friendly, permanent smile. Bottlenose dolphins can reach speeds of over 18 miles an hour (30 kilometers). They come to the surface to breathe around 2-3 times a minute. Bottlenose dolphins travel in social groups and communicate with each other by squeaks and whistles. Schools have been known to come to the aid of an injured dolphin and help it to the surface.

Bottlenose dolphins track their prey through the expert use of echolocation. They can make up to 1,000 clicking noises, per second,  these travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back to their dolphin senders, revealing the location, size, and shape of their target.

Status: Vulnerable

Length: 12 feet

Diet: Variety of fish, squid, shrimp

  • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

The Atlantic spotted is a dolphin found in the Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic Ocean. Older members of the species have a very distinctive spotted coloration all over their bodies.

Atlantic spotted dolphin colours vary as they grow. Calves are a fairly uniform grey colour, when the calves are weaned, they then begin to get their spots. Juveniles (mid-teens) have some dark spots on their bellies, and white spots on their flanks. Their back and dorsal fins are a darker grey than the rest of the body. As the animal matures, the spots become denser and spread until the body appears black with white spots at full maturation.

Status: Threatened

Length: 7 feet

Diet: Variety of fish, squid, shrimp

  • Commerson’s Dolphin

Commerson’s dolphin may look like porpoises with their stocky body shape and their small, indistinct rostrum, the Commerson’s dolphin is part of the dolphin family with its bold, outgoing behaviour. Because of its striking black and white patterns, this dolphin is also named “Skunk dolphin” and “Piebald dolphin”. Typical colouration of an adult is a black coloured head, with a large black area sweeping back from the dorsal fin to the flukes. They have a white patch on its throat that travels beneath its pectoral fins, then sweeps upwards, covering the whole midsection of the dolphin in white, with a small black patch on the underside that may come up slightly to the side of the dolphin. As a young calf, these dolphins don’t have the black and white pattern, so they are grey, black and brown. As they grow older it will become black and grey, with the grey patches developing into the white colouration that that adults have.

Status: Vulnerable

Length: 5 feet

Diet: Variety of fish, squid, shrimp

  • Dusky Dolphin

The Dusky Dolphin is the smallest of the world’s species of dolphin growing to under two metres in length and generally weighting less than 100g. Dusky dolphins have a smooth and hairless, streamlined body that helps them to glide through the water and have two powerful tail flukes which lay horizontally rather than vertically like those of a fish. The upper side of their body is either dark grey or is blue/black in colour  and is separated from their light grey to white underside by a grey line which runs  from their beak to the base of their tail. They also contain between 24 and 36 pairs of sharp, cone shaped teeth that are ideal for catching slippery and fast moving prey.


Length: 2 metres

Diet: Variety of fish, squid, shrimp


Diving with Dolphins

Check out our holiday website for your chance to dive with dolphins on your holiday. or call us on 0800 699 0243.

Alternatively our dive club often has Dolphin encounters on our UK trips –


Adopt a dolphin

Help the WWF reduce accidental drowns in fishing nets by adopting a dolphin. Check their website and see what you can do to help.

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