Playful, friendly and seeming to show off a permanent smile, dolphins are without a doubt one of the world’s most beloved sea creatures. The marine mammals are found in waters across the globe and cruising is the perfect way to watch them in the wild. All up there are 33 different types of marine dolphins, plus four river species and six porpoises. If you can’t get enough of these adorable cetacean mammals, read on for a collection of our favourite dolphins to spot on a cruise.
These playful mammals love to frolic and can often be spotted simply be wandering up to the bow of the ship. They love tropical and temperate waters, and can be found both close to land and far out to sea. Australian cruises generally always feature a dolphin spotting experience, often in the wild.
Yes, the orca is actually a member of the dolphin family! These majestic creatures have contrasting markings in jet black, brilliant white and smoky grey, with male dorsal fins measuring up to 1.8 metres. Spot them on wildlife shore excursions offered in Canadian and Alaskan itineraries.
The scientific name for this dolphin is Lagenorhynchus obscurus, and it belongs to the Delphinidae family. Its distinguishing feature is a white or greyish coloured band on both sides, as well as a lighter face and fin. They’re found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with South America a particular hot spot. Cruise through the Península Valdés, Province of Buenos Aires and Chilean waters and you’ll likely spot a pod.
These cute creatures average about 1.8 metres in length and are found only in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It only received official species status in 1981 so it’s still relatively unknown to most people. All the more reason to tick it off your list! They love to frolic around the Gulf of Mexico however unfortunately they also have a tendency to strand themselves.
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins
Sleek and streamlined, the scientific name for this dolphin is ‘Stenella frontalis’ which is derived from the Greek word stenos, meaning “narrow” and the Latin word “Frontalis” meaning “pertaining to the head.” As the name suggests, it has spotted skin that gives it a highly unique look. Keep an eye out for them in warm temperate and tropical waters found in countries such as the Bahamas.
Hump Back Dolphins
This dolphin falls into the Sousa genus which is characterized by a small dorsal fin extending from a hump like ridge. This particular species lives along the west coast of tropical and sub-tropical Africa, with the Indo-Pacific variation cruising the waters of northern Australia, southern China, the coastal rim of the Indian Ocean and the east coast of southern Africa.
Long Finned Pilot Whale
While we call these mammals whales, they’re actually dolphins just like orcas. They’re dark grey or jet black in colour, with a diagonal white stripe behind each eye. Find them in Iceland, Greenland and North Carolina. Pods keep to offshore waters in winter and venture into bays during the warmer summer months. This makes summer cruises in Nordic regions the perfect opportunity to spot Long Finned Pilot Whales in the wild.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Linda Balon, NOAA Photo Library, Gavin Harrison