How big are dolphins?
The exact size of a dolphin will depend on a variety of different factors: the sex of the dolphin, its species, where it lives and how old it is.
The size of the dolphin will vary greatly depending on the species of the dolphin. There are some dolphins which are only 5 feet long when they are fully grown and others which can reach nearly 30 feet in length. The largest species in the dolphin family is the killer whale (also known as the orca). This dolphin regularly grows to be longer than 25 feet.
The world’s smallest (and rarest) dolphin is the Maui’s dolphin. Individual dolphins of this species do not grow past 5 and a half feet in length. These are the two extremes of sizes, but there are species of dolphin which grow at most lengths in between. A medium, or average-sized dolphin, would measure around 8 feet in length. Anything bigger than this is considered large.
River dolphins tend to be a bit shorter than marine dolphins. They cannot grow as big as their habitat requires them to be able to fit through small gaps and turn round sharp corners. There is no way that a dolphin as big as a killer whale would be able to survive in a river environment!
There are exceptions, but for most species of dolphin, the males of the species grow to be larger than the females. This is not always the case but is true of around 90% of dolphin species. Baby dolphins of all species are born much smaller than their parents and take years to grow to reach the same size. The size of the baby will again depend on the species of dolphin in question, they tend to range from around 2 feet in length to 7 feet.
For some species, where they live has a big impact on their size. Although two dolphins may belong to exactly the same species, if they live in different areas of the sea, they may tend to grow at different rates and stop growing when they reach different lengths. Scientists have not found any evidence to suggest that there is a difference in size between dolphins which are raised in captivity and those which grow up in the wild.Dolphin Facts | Dolphin Information | Dolphin Species | Dolphins FAQ