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Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis chinensis)

Chinese White Dolphin

The Chinese White Dolphin is considered to be medium in size. They can be either a light shade of gray or white in color. They also can have a pinkish tint to them depending on the location where they live. Experts believe that this is a way for their blood vessels changing in order to adapt to the different changes in temperatures out there. Some people don’t realize this and assume that they dolphins have actually been sunburned. The older they get the more pinkish in color they will become.


They have a roundish body design that allows them to move around well in the water. They are fast swimmers and able to move very easily through the water. They do have thicker layers of blubber than other types of dolphins. They are also shorter in length so they do seem heavier because of that as well.

Most species of dolphins don’t have very good eyesight. However, the Chinese White Dolphin is able to see very well both when they are in the water and when they are in the air.


Dolphins are believed to have been around for more than 50 million years based upon the DNA evidence of fossils that have been discovered. The development of different features has occurred over time for the dolphins. They were once land animals and may have fed from the shores of the water. As time went on though it became more important for them to be able to survive in the water to find adequate amounts of food.


Even though these dolphins are very social creatures, they don’t form as large of pods as other species. It is typical to see them in groups of only about three or four members. They are extremely playful creatures though which is why so many people really love to watch them. They commonly leap out of water either straight up or at an angle. This is to help remove parasites from the body as they are coming up for air.

Sky hopping is another common behavior which involves only the head being out of the water. They will do this to look around and many people find it to be fascinating.

They can swim on one side at times and then they can also swim on their backs. They often have their mouths open in a way that looks like they are laughing and having a great time. Many people find them very amusing creatures. Experts have studied them to try to make sense out of what they are doing but so far they remain puzzled about a great deal of it.

The younger Chinese White Dolphins have to come to the surface for air about twice as often as the adults. This is due to the fact that they don’t develop their full lung capacity until they are mature. You will often be able to observe these dolphins leaping completely out of the water. This helps to remove their bodies from parasites.

Chinese white dolphin - Sousa chinensis chinensis

Chinese white dolphin – Sousa chinensis chinensis

Habitat and Distribution

There are three main areas of China where the Chinese White Dolphin lives. They include the Soko Islands, Peng Chau, and Lantau. They tend to live in the warmer bodies of water but they do also live in some cooler areas. Those with more of a pinkish color are the ones that live in the cooler areas.

The do live in bodies of fresh water including lakes, lagoons, reefs, and in some cases even swamps. This is important to note because that means they can be often sharing the water with humans. That makes them more susceptible to boating accidents and problems with pollution.

Due to the popularity of these dolphins, frequent boating excursions to observe them are offered around China. The individuals responsible for these excursions are very aware of the patterns of movement the dolphins make. Every effort is made to ensure that they are safe in spite of the boats being out there. They avoid using heavy boats that could injury or kill them.

Diet and Feeding Habits

They are able to pick up the vibrations of movement of their prey in the water. This also allows them to be able to determine the direction that they are moving and even the size. As a result they are exceptional hunters and they are able to usually find their fill of food on a daily basis.

It isn’t fully known how much they eat each day but estimated to be about 8% of their body weight. They swallow their food whole instead of chewing it. This is why they consume small and medium sized fish and allow the larger ones to continue moving on.

They can be picky eaters as well! While other species of dolphins are fine with consuming squid, octopus, shrimp, and crabs these don’t. They will pass them up unless they haven’t been able to find very much food at all.


Male Chinese White Dolphins are mature at about 13 years of age. The females are ready for mating at an earlier age, about 10 years old. The males will call to the females in order to attract them for mating. They have a courtship that also involves swimming tougher and physical touching.

After a female conceives it takes about 11 months before her offspring is born. The females take very good care of their young. Generally a baby will stay with the mother until it is about three years of age. At that point it should have enough skills to live on its own and will go to join or create another pod.

The average life span in the wild is 40 years with the right conditions in place. The age of it is determined by the cross sections of the teeth. There aren’t very many of in captivity though due to the fact that they can be susceptible to a variety of diseases.


The Chinese White Dolphin has problems with both sharks and Killer Whales in some areas. It really depends upon the location. Their biggest threats though are the fact that humans are in their same territory. Many experts believe that the noise problems in such areas can cause stress for these dolphins. As a result they can end up not eating like they should or mating.

Poaching of the Chinese White Dolphin continues to be a huge problem. In many areas they are hunted for the meat that they can offer. In others, they are killed to prevent the fishermen from having to share the fish in the waters with these animals. They know with them out of the way what they can collect daily will increase.

Pollution is another huge problem for these dolphins as it makes it much harder for them to survive in their natural environment. There are very few of them remaining but an exact count isn’t know. It is believed that close to 1,700 of them is all that remain in the wild. They are considered to be endangered animals at this point in time.



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September 2015
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