The humpback dolphin is one of the less well-known species and therefore attracts less funding for research. As its habitat is also far from the research centers in the United States where most dolphin investigations are conducted, there is still much to be learned about the humpback dolphin.
The most distinctive feature of the humpback dolphin is the irregular curve of its back which gives it its name. The dorsal fin is elongated at the front and follows the curve of the dolphin’s back. Humpback dolphins have extremely small pectoral fins in relation to their overall size and a distinctive notch in their tail fin. When they are first born, humpback dolphin calves are a shade of pearly white, but as they grow older they lose their sheen to become a light grey. Their teeth are cone-shaped and each humpback dolphin has between 60 and 68 of them. They eat a variety of fish but scientists think that their diet consists mainly of mullet.
Humpback dolphins live in coastal waters in a concentrated area of the planet. There is a population which lives all along the east coast of Africa, Saudi Arabia and India and another population which lives along the north-western coast of Africa.
There are potential plans being discussed to split humpback dolphins into three different species categories. This would mean that three new species would be created in the animal kingdom: the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, the Chinese white dolphin and the Australian humpback dolphin. These plans are still only being discussed and there is no evidence to suggest if or when they will be implemented in the future.
As a dolphin which prefers to live in coastal areas, the humpback dolphin is currently at risk of extinction. The waters nearer to the coast are much more polluted than waters further out to sea, and the humpback dolphin lives in many areas where dumping waste into the ocean is not regulated. This not only threatens the health of the dolphins but the quality and quantity of their prey, making it increasingly more difficult for them to find enough to eat.
Fishing is another activity which is more prevalent closer to the coast and humpback dolphins are sadly at risk of being accidentally caught up in nets and lines meant for other animals. This species of dolphin can be seen listed on the red list of endangered species as it is in danger of extinction in all of the areas in which it can be found.