Dolphin Species Introduction
There is some debate over how many different species of dolphins there really are. Some say there are 37 different species, while some say that there actually 43. It all depends on whether you think the White Whale counts as a dolphin or not. Some say that it does, some say that it doesn’t.
Dolphin or Whale?
The largest of all dolphin species is the Orca, which is commonly known as the Killer Whale. These dolphins can be over 31 feet long when fully grown, which has provided them with the unproper name of “whale”.
Also, there are several different dolphins considered as the smallest dolphin species. These include True dolphins, Tucuxi dolphins, Hector’s dolphins, Black dolphins, River dolphins, porpoises, and Commerson’s dolphins.
Dolphins are Cetaceans
All dolphins belong to the cetacean family. This order includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
The Cetacean order is broken down into sub-orders. In other words, the entire cetacean family is broken down into smaller families.
The first sub-order is the Mysticeti family, which is made up of Baleen Whales. These whales capture prey by straining water through a series of baleen plates in their mouths. These plates act as filters to collect the food.
Included in the Mysticeti family is the Balaenopteridae family, which is made up of Minke Whales, Sei Whales, Bryde’s Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, and the Humpback Whales. These are all fast swimmers that take in a great amount of water in an expanding buccal cavity, then expel the water through the baleen to capture their prey. Their bodies are very streamlined, which allows them to be lunging feeders.
The next family of cetaceans in the Mysticeti group is the Balaenidae family. The Bowhead Whales, Northern Right Whales, Southern Right Whales, and Pygmy Right Whales make up this group, and they are characterized by their habit of being slow-moving, continuous filter feeders. Still in the Mysteiceti group, the next family is the Eschrichtidae family. This family is comprised of the Gray Whale.
Odonticety Sub-Order, the Toothed Cetaceans
After the Mysticeti sub-order, the next sub-order in the cetacean family is the Odontoceti sub-order. This group is made up of toothed whales.
The first family is the Ziphidae family, which is made up entirely of big toothed whales like the beaked whales, North Sea Beaked Whales, Strap-Toothed Whales, Antillean Beaked Whales, True’s Beaked Whales, Camperdown Whales, Blainville’s Beaked Whales, Longman’s Beaked Whales, Hector’s Beaked Whales, Ginkgo-Toothed Beaked Whales, Stejneger’s Beaked Whales, Hubb’s Beaked Whales, Cuvier’s Beaked Whales, Baird’s Beaked Whales, Arnoux’s Beaked Whales, Tasman Beaked Whales, Northern Bottlenose Whales, and Southern Bottlenose Whales. These whales are deep diving, deep water whales that are rarely seen by humans.
The next family in the Odonticeti sub-order is the Physeteridae family, which includes the Sperm Whale, Pygmy Sperm Whale, and Dwarf Sperm Whale.
The next family is the Monodontidae family, which is made up of the White Whale and the Narwhal Whale. These whales are normally found in large groups.
The Platanistidae Family is the first sub-order of the Odonticeti family, and it is made up of the river dolphins, which includes:
- Ganges River Dolphins
- Indus River Dolphins
- Amazon River Dolphins
- Chinese River Dolphins
- Franciscana River Dolphins
The Stenidae family, which is also part of the Odonticeti sub-order is made up of Rough-Toothed Dolphins, Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, Spotted Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, Striped Dolphins, Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphins, Short-Snouted Spinner Dolphins, Tucuxi Dolphins, Guiana River Dolphins, Chinese White Dolphins, Borneo White Dolphins, Speckled Dolphins, Plumbeous Dolphins, Cameroon Dolphins, and Rio De Janeiro Dolphins.
The Delphinidae family, is made up of dolphins that people commonly know more about. These include include:
- Common Dolphin
- Risso’s Dolphins
- Bottlenose Dolphin
- White-Sided Dolphin
- White Beaked Dolphin
- Dusky Dolphin
- Falkland Island Dolphin
- Hour Glass Dolphin
- Peale’s Dolphin
- Sarawak Dolphin
- Pygmy Killer Whales
- Heaviside’s Dolphin
- White Bellied Dolphins
- Orcas – also known as Killer Whales
- False Killer Whales
- Irrawaddy River Dolphins
- Pilot Whales
- Short-finned Pilot Whales
- Broad Beaked Dolphins
- Southern Right Whale Dolphins
- Northern Right Whale Dolphins
The last family in the Odonticeti sub-order is the Phocoenidae family, which is made up of the various species of porpoises. This includes the Harbor Porpoise, Spectacled Porpoise, Black Porpoise, Black Finless Porpoise, Dall’s Porpoise, True’s Porpoise, Finless Porpoise, and Cochito Porpoise.
The final sub-order of cetaceans is the Archaeoceti family. This is the family of whale’s that no longer exists. They are fossil whales, as they existed before dolphin’s began to evolve, and they date back 50 million years.