Quick and Easy Dolphin Identification Key

Quick and Easy Dolphin Identification Key

If you make a sighting we will appreciate you making a report here

Hector dolphinHector's Dolphin
(Cephalorhynchus hectori )
Characteristics:

  • Dorsal fin shape: ”Mickey mouse” shaped, rounded
  • smallest dolphin (1.2-1.6 meters)
  • Black shading around dorsal fin, pectoral fin, cheeks and eyes, and lower part of tail
  • 3-pronged or “trident” shape white patch on belly
  • No pronounced beak
  • Usually coastal in small groups (5-8)
Dusky DolpinDusky Dolphin
(Lagenorhynchus obscurus) 
Characteristics:
  • Dorsal fin shape: Triangular, hooked with point
  • Beak length: Blunt and rounded
  • Body colors: Black, Grey, and white. Not Tan or Brown
  • 1.6-1.8 meters long
  • Can occur in large groups >100
  • RARELY WHISTLE
  • Acrobatic
  • Rarely seen around North Island
Common DolphinCommon Dolphin
(Delphinus delphis)
Other characteristics:
  • 1.6-1.8 meters long
  • Can occur in large groups >100
  • OFTEN WHISTLE
  • Commonly seen around North Island
Bottlenose dolphinBottlenose Dolphin
(Tursiops truncatus)
Other characteristics:
  • large dolphin (up to 4 m)
  • Group size up to about 100
  • Dorsal fins often well-marked (many nicks, notches and scrapes)
  • OFTEN WHISTLE