The Great Barrier Reef is a large habitat that houses many marine species. Many marine plants and marine animals thrive in the Great Barrier Reef. Below are 17 Types of Dolphins In the Great Barrier Reef. These dolphin species are the most common types of dolphins that you can meet inside the Great Barrier habitat.
1. Pacific Humpback Dolphin
The Pacific Humpback dolphin is easily recognisable due to its hump located near its fin. The size of this creature is medium. It has a round head that curves down to the beak. Its beak is narrow and also long. Its flippers are wide but blunt and rounded.
The colour of the Pacific Humpback dolphin varies from grey to pink. When this creature is first born, there are dark spots all over its body. As it grows older, the spots grow lighter which affect the appearance of a fully adult Pacific Humpback dolphin.
2. Australian Snubfin Dolphin
The Australian Snubfin dolphin is often mistaken for another dolphin species, the Irrawaddy dolphin, due to their similar appearances. The Irrawaddy has two colour tones on its body while the Australian Snubfin has three.
The Australian Snubfin was only recognised as a species of dolphin in the year of 1948 when its skeleton was first found. Later on, there were reports that the dolphins were once hunted by aboriginals as food.
3. Bottlenose Dolphin
The Bottlenose dolphin can be a large species since it has the ability to grow up to 4 metres. The colour of this dolphin is often dark grey that goes lighter as the colour moves to its underbelly.
The Bottlenose dolphin is intelligent and also very social. It likes to swim with a large group of dolphins. It is also fond of playing around with humans on boats in the Great Barrier Reef. Other than that, the Bottlenose dolphin is a very fast swimmer too.
4. Burrunan Dolphin
The Burrunan dolphin has only been recently announced as a new species of dolphin. It was once thought as the same kind of dolphin as the Bottlenose. However, this species is proven to be a different type through DNA testing and thorough skull examination. The population is fairly small. There have been around 150 species spotted in the water. It is a medium sized dolphin as it may reach 2.7 metres in length.
Read more: Smallest Dolphins in the World
5. Spinner Dolphin
The Spinner dolphin is another species of dolphin that can be found in the Great Barrier Reef. The dolphin can reach the average length of 2 metres. It also weighs approximately 75kg. The Spinner dolphin is very much a social dolphin. It is fond of traveling in a huge group of 200 dolphins. The Spinner dolphin also likes to play around passing boats in the waters. Moreover, it also likes to leap and spin outside of the water for a brief amount of time.
6. Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphin
The Pan-tropical Spotted dolphin is named as such due to its appearance. The body of the Pan-tropical Spotted dolphin is riddled with spots all over its body.
The upper part of the dolphin’s body is dark grey and the lower part is a lighter colour of grey. The beak of this dolphin is medium in length.
The Pan-tropical Spotted dolphin is an active dolphin. It is often found leaping out of the water. It is also not afraid of approaching nearby boats.
Read more: Ways to Save the Dolphins
7. Irrawaddy Dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin has an appearance that could be similar to a seal. That could be caused by the way the head is shaped. As well as how the Irrawaddy’s dolphin head has a bulging shape.
It has a different head formation to the other species of dolphin. Moreover, the shape of its fins is triangular. There is also an additional small fin pointing out from its rear part of the body. The colour of this dolphin is dominantly light grey with white underbelly. It’s quite a large dolphin as it may grow up to 2 metres in length.
8. Southern Right Whale Dolphin
The Southern Right Whale dolphin is a very graceful dolphin. Its speed of swimming can be fast. However, it prefers to travel the water slowly, with ease. The colour of this dolphin is both black and white.
It has a small beak. Moreover, the body of the Southern Right Whale dolphin is very streamlined. Its length ranges between 1.8 metres and 2.9 metres. This dolphin lives in a group consisting of as little as 2 dolphins or as much as hundreds of them.
9. Striped Dolphin
The Striped dolphin has an interesting combination of colour for its body. The top part of the dolphin is black or dark grey.
The middle part is very light grey while the belly is white.There is also a light stripe of grey running from under its eye to the back of its rear. Some species of this dolphin may also have black patches around the eyes. This dolphin is also fond of traveling in groups. When it swims at a high speed, a part of its body may swim above water.
10. Risso’s Dolphin
The Risso’s dolphin is also a species of dolphin that could be spotted at the Great Barrier Reef. The colour of this dolphin is grey with white underbelly.
There are white marks all over the Risso’s dolphin body which makes for a very distinctive feature. The reason for all those scars is the fact that the Risso’s dolphin likes to swim in deep parts of the waters. Those deep parts of the water lies the squid, a prey for the Risso’s dolphin. However, those scars may also be caused by other dolphins as well.
Read more: Conservation of Blue Whales
11. Rough-toothed Dolphin
The Rough-toothed dolphin is usually described as looking a bit primitive. This creature has a different teeth structure than other species of dolphins. There are actually vertical wrinkles on its teeth.
Those wrinkles may be hard to see but it can be used as an identification method when the dolphin is dead. The dolphin is grey in colour. It has a small, but sharp beak. There are also scars present in the underside of the body, near its belly. The dolphin also has a blowhole.
12. Dusky Dolphin
The Dusky dolphin is a medium sized dolphin. The length that it can grow up to is around 2 metres. The colour of the dolphin is black and white. The upper part of the body is black while the rest is white.
However, the flippers of the Dusky dolphin are also black or very dark grey. The beak is extremely short and is usually in dark grey also. Other than all those features, the Dusky dolphin has a bulky body structure.
13. Hourglass Dolphin
Similar to the Dusky dolphin, the Hourglass dolphin is also medium sized. The adult species may reach 1.9 metres in length.
The pattern of the Hourglass’ dolphin is interesting. The colour of this dolphin is both black and white and those colours meet, resembling an hourglass. Most of the upper and the lower parts of the dolphin is black. But the middle part of its body, there is a white stripe running from above its eyes to its rear.
Read more: Facts of Whale Shark
14. Fraser’s Dolphin
The Fraser’s dolphin is quite a large species of dolphin. The dolphin can grow up to around 3 metres. Additionally, it also weighs around 210 kg.
The body structure of the Fraser’s dolphin is thick and streamlined. The colour of the Fraser’s dolphin varies from dark grey to a lighter hue of grey. The flippers are small and short. Moreover, the beak of the Fraser’s dolphin is also short and roundish.
15. Common Dolphin
The Common dolphin is another dolphin species that could be encountered in the reef. This medium sized dolphin may reach the 1.9 metres in length. However, some species can grow up to 2.5 metres.
The Common dolphin’s body colour is made up of several shades. The rear end of the dolphin is dark coloured while the sides are either light grey or gold. As for the underbelly, it is always white. The Common dolphin loves to travel with thousands of other dolphin species. Moreover, it also has the ability to swim at a quick speed.
Also read: Facts of Blue Whales
16. Long Beaked Common Dolphin
The Long Beaked Common dolphin has approximately the same length as the Common dolphin. The males have greater length and weight than the females though.
The colour is similar to that of the Common dolphin. The head is rounder at the top as it is used for echolocation. The Long Beaked Common dolphin has a long beak. Other than that, it also has a lot of teeth. It likes to feed on small fish such as anchovies and mackerels. Additionally, it feeds on squids too.
17. Short Beaked Common Dolphin
The Short Beaked Common dolphin is given its name because of the short beak it has. This species of dolphin is related to the Common dolphin so it has the same size and the same colours as the Common dolphin.
What’s different is that the male species of the Short Beaked Common dolphin has a slight hump built in the body. The Short Beaked Common dolphin is a social species of dolphin. It travels the water in a group of hundreds of dolphins. It is also unafraid to approach boats.
All the dolphins in the Great Barrier Reef have different patterns and body structures which could be helpful to identify them. Most of the dolphins are social creatures too. So these dolphins may approach and play around for a while when there are people visiting them.