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Dusky Dolphin Classification and Evolution
The Dusky Dolphin is a small species of dolphin that is found
inhabiting the cooler waters along continental shelves
throughout the southern hemisphere. This distinctive looking
cetacean is closely related to other large marine animals
including other dolphins, porpoises and whales but despite
their fish-like appearance Dusky Dolphins are true mammals
that both breathe air in and out of their lungs and also suckle
their young on milk produced by the mother's mammary
glands. Dusky Dolphins are widespread throughout the
southern hemisphere with three species being recognised that
have been grouped by their geographical range, with one found
off the coast of South America, one near South Africa and in the
Indian Ocean and another inhabits deeper waters close to New
Zealand. Sadly however, despite being locally common in
certain areas Dusky Dolphin populations have declined
throughout much of their natural range primarily due to threats
caused by increasing levels of human activity.

Dusky Dolphin Anatomy and Appearance

The Dusky Dolphin is the smallest of the world's 33 different
species of dolphin growing to under two meters in length and
generally weighing less than 100kg. Like other species of
cetacean, Dusky Dolphins have a smooth and hairless,
streamlined body that helps them to glide through the water
and is powered by their two tail flukes which lay horizontally
rather than vertically like those of fish. The upper-side of their
bodies is either dark grey or blue-black in colour and is
separated from their light grey to white under-side by a grey
line which runs from their beak to the base of their tail. Dusky
Dolphins also have two light grey lines which run diagonally
from their tail to their dorsal fin which is tall and curved to help
them to change direction quickly in the water. The beak of the
Dusky Dolphin is black and more rounded in shape than those
of other dolphin species and contains between 24 and 36 pairs
of sharp, cone-shaped teeth that are ideal for catching slippery
and fast-moving prey.
are used to catch the shoaling fish which the

Dusky Dolphins hunt. Dusky Dolphin Distribution

and Habitat
Dusky Dolphins tend to be found in cool to temperate waters
(10 - 18 degrees centigrade) close to continental shelves
throughout the southern hemisphere, and seem to prefer
shallower rather than deep water regions (although this can
vary depending on the location and time of year). Although
they are not generally known to participate in seasonal
migrations, Dusky Dolphins can travel vast distances across the
ocean and at great speed in search of food. The three Dusky
Dolphin species have been classified by the regions in which
they live with the highest populations found off the coast of
South America, South-Western Africa and around New Zealand.
There are also populations known to occur in the waters close
to Argentina along with around the Falkland Islands further
south. Despite their wide range and distribution throughout the
southern hemisphere Dusky Dolphin populations have been
decreasing mainly due to interaction with humans including
being hunted for their meat and getting caught in the nets that
Dusky Dolphin Facts
Kingdom: Animalia






Scientific Name:
Lagenorhynchus obscurus

Common Name:
Dusky Dolphin


Number Of Species: 3

Location: Across the southern hemisphere

Cooler waters near continental shelves
Grey, Blue, Black, White

Skin Type:

Size (L):
1.6m - 2.1m (5ft - 7ft)

80kg - 120kg (176lbs - 264lbs)

Top Speed:
37kph (23mph)


Anchovies, Sardines, Squid

Killer Whales, Sharks, Humans


Group Behaviour: Pod

Life Span:
18 - 25 years

Age Of Sexual Maturity: 4 - 5 years

Gestation Period: 11 months

Average Litter Size:


Name Of Young: Calf

Age Of Weaning: 18 months

Conservation Status:
Data Deficient

Estimated Population Size: Not Known

Biggest Threat: Hunting and commercial fishing

Most Distinctive Feature: Rounded black beak and tall, curved dorsal fin

Fun Fact: Communicates using whistles, sq