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About Dolphins

What is the Difference Between Dolphins and Porpoises?


Like seals and sea lions, dolphins and porpoises are often confused for each other. There are a number of diferences between the two species.

Dolphins are long, and have a distinct pronounced beak, while porpoises do not. The dorsal fin on a on a porpoise is smaller and more triangular, than those found on a dolphin. In most dolphin species the cervical vertabrae are separated, allowing for fluid movement, in porpoises a portion of the cervical vertabrae is often fused, which restricts their "neck" movement.

In general porpoises are smaller than most dolphin species. Dolphins have cone shaped teeth, while porpoises have spade shaped teeth. Dolphins are far more prevalant than porpoises and do to their friendly nature, dolphins are observed more frequently.

Dolphins vs Porpoises


What is the Difference Between Dolphins and Porpoises?


Traits Dolphins Porpoise
teeth cone shaped spade shaped
shape long and thinner robust
dorsal fin curved triangle triangular
sounds audible to humans inaudible to humans
social friendly shy
length up to 12 feet up to 7 feet
beak prominent beak short and blunt
pods most species in large pods or super pods small pods of 2-4
neck separate vertabrae fused cervical vertabrae
# of species 30+ species 6 species
lifespan varies by species (up to 50 years) approx. 15 years

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