What do dolphins look like?
Although dolphins are actually marine mammals, there is lots of evidence to suggest that they actually look more like fish. There are lots of different species of dolphin which all have distinctive and identifiable visual differences but they are all roughly the same shape. Dolphins are relatively large fur-less mammals. They do not have scales like other marine animals but instead have smooth skin which is stretched taut over their bodies.
They have long bodies which are slightly curved and narrow down as they get closer towards the tail. They all have a dorsal fin in the center of their back. Their tails culminate in a tail flake at the end which is used to help them swim and to stun prey. Most have quite round heads with protruding beaks or nose which sticks out from their faces. They all have between 40 and 90 teeth on both the top and bottom jaw and they have a small black eye on either side of their face. The exact color and size of a dolphin will depend on the particular species of dolphin. They are usually grey-ish blue in color but can be seen in a variety of different colors and patterns.
The smallest dolphins are just over 5 foot long, whereas the largest ones can measure up to 32 feet in length. They are a similar size and shape to sharks, but sharks have sharper teeth, do not have a protruding beak and have gills instead of a blowhole. Sharks also tend to have a much straighter dorsal fin, where dolphins have one with softer, curved edges. Dolphins come in many different colors and patterns. The Amazon River dolphin is a pale pink color; the Atlantic spotted dolphin is black with small white spots all over its body; bottlenose dolphins are blue-ish grey all over; common dolphins have an hourglass pattern down one side; striped dolphins are stripy; killer whales are black with distinctive white patches and Chinese white dolphins are white all over. For many species of dolphin, the young are born a different color to the adults and they will then grow to develop their own patterns or markings.
River dolphins look slightly different to marine dolphins. They tend to have much longer beaks which can make up anything up to 15% of their overall body length. They also have flippers on their sides instead of fins.Dolphin Facts | Dolphin Information | Dolphin Species | Dolphins FAQ