Compare Dolphins & Porpoise
Dolphins and Porpoise are often used interchangeably as general terms for small toothed whales. These animals are found in every ocean of the world. Any dolphin or porpoise larger than 30 feet is technically called a whale. Killer whales, melon-headed whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales are all part of the dolphin family, but are called whales because of their size.
Dolphins and porpoises are carnivores, with most eating fishes and/or squids. Different habitats mean different diets; each type of dolphin and porpoise specializes in catching prey that lives in its specific ecosystem.
A dolphin is a relatively small cetacean, usually with a curved dorsal fin – the raised structure on the back of most cetaceans. Dolphins are generally about 6–12 feet long, and have melon-shaped heads with beaks. Their teeth are cone-shaped, and top and bottom teeth interlock. Dolphins move in large, more socially complex pods than porpoises and tend to be more acrobatic at the surface.
Porpoises have stocky bodies, blunt heads and small, spade-shaped teeth. They’re the smallest cetaceans at about four–seven feet in length.
To report a dead, injured or stranded marine mammal, please call: 1-800-853-1964
Cone shaped teeth
Melon with pronounced beak
6-12 ft in length
All ocean waters
Number of Sub-Families?
Number of Species?
Spade shaped teeth
Blunt head with no prominent beak
4-7 ft in length
Shallow and nearshore, colder temperate waters