Last modified: Tuesday September 24th, 2002

alt.animals.dolphins FAQ (part 2 of 3)

Selected newsgroup headers
Newsgroups: alt.animals.dolphins,alt.answers,news.answers
Subject: Dolphin FAQ (2/3)
Summary: Resources and taxonomy part of alt.animals.dolphins FAQ
Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU

Archive-name: animals/dolphin-faq/part02
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2002/09/24
Maintainer: Jaap van der Toorn <>

This is part 2 of the FAQ for alt.animals dolphins. This document is maintained by Jaap van der Toorn ( The intention is to post the latest version of the FAQ on the newsgroup once a month. Please direct any remarks, suggestions, corrections and additions to the above e-mail address.


3.1 - Where can you find out more about books, videos etc. about dolphins?

There is an excellent list of books, videos and CDs on dolphins, which is put together by Trisha Lamb-Feuerstein. This list is updated on a regular basis. You can find that on the Web at the following URL:

There is a searchable database at the site of the Dolphin Study Group of the National University of Singapore at: They also have a picture database at:

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3.2 - Are there any fictional books starring dolphins?

Yes, there are quite a few. You can find them at the Web site mentioned above.

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3.3 - How can I find dolphin related Web sites?

Most marine mammal Web sites are listed on the Marine Mammal Links page:

Similar information (grouped by category) can be found at Wesley Elsberry's site: Another good starting point is the Aquatic Resources section at the New England Aquarium site at:

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3.4 - Are there dolphin-related mailing lists?

Yes, there are a few e-mail discussion lists, some dealing with marine mammals in general, others with dolphins only. The following are discussion lists. You can participate in the discussions, if you play by the rules set for the group (you will receive instructions once you join).

MARMAM - scientific marine mammal discussion list

To join send an e-mail

Body:  subscribe marmam Yourfirstname Yourlastnamename 

You can also follow the discussion on the eScribe mailing list archive at:

ECS-ALL - scientific cetacean discussion list

To join send an e-mail

Body:  join ecs-all firstname (firstname ...) lastname stop

There are also e-mail newsletters and mailing lists you can join. Subscription information can be found on the associated web sites. Some examples:

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4.1 - How many species of dolphins are there?

The taxonomy of whales and dolphins is still subject to change. But in the most common view, the family of dolphins (Delphinidae) consists of 32 different species. Closely related families (the white whales (Monodontidae) and river dolphins (Platanistidae) have 2 resp. 5 species).

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4.2a - What is the dolphin species seen in most oceanaria?

4.2b - What species was the dolphin in the Flipper series?

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

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4.3 - What is the largest dolphin?

The killer whale (Orcinus orca). Male killer whales can grow up to 9.6 m (31.5 ft).

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4.4 - What is the smallest dolphin species?

There is not really one smallest species. The smallest species include:

True dolphins (Delphinidae):

River dolphins (Platanistidae):

Porpoises (Phocoenidae):

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4.5 - What is the difference between dolphins and porpoises?

Dolphins and porpoises belong to different whale families. The most obvious differences are:

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4.6 - What is a dolphin fish?

Dolphins are marine mammals, but there is also a fish species that's often called "dolphin" or "dolphin fish". Its scientific name is Coryphaena hippurus. To avoid confusion with the mammal species its Spanish name "dorado" or its Hawaiian name "mahi mahi" is often used. Because of the confusion between the mammal and the fish species dolphins have in the past erroneously been called porpoises, especially in some US regions, where the fish species is common. In older books you can encounter the name "bottlenose porpoise" for the bottlenose dolphin, for instance. Dolphins and porpoises are however members of different whale families (see 4.5). You can find more information about the dolphin fish, including its common name in other languages, in the FishBase database, online at

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4.7 - What are cetaceans?

Cetaceans is a collective term for whales, dolphins and porpoises. The name is derived from the scientific (Latin) name of these animals: Cetacea.

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4.8 - Are whales and dolphins endangered?

For most species, the answer is probably "No", although it is very difficult to get a good estimate of the size of populations on these water living creatures. A number of species are endangered: the Indus river dolphin, the baiji (there are only about 100 left), the vaquita, the northern right whale and the blue whale. Another group of species is listed as "vulnerable" (which means that they are not in immediate danger of extinction, but also far from safe). These are: the Ganges river dolphin, the boto, the bowhead, the southern right whale, the sei whale, the fin whale and the humpback whale.

M. Klinowksa (1991)
Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World. The IUCN Red Data Book
IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

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4.9 An overview of the species of whales and dolphins (the order Cetacea)

Eubalaena glacialis northern right whale
Eubalaena australis southern right whale
Balaena mysticetus bowhead whale
Caperea marginata pygmy right whale
Balaenoptera musculus blue whale
Balaenoptera physalus fin whale
Balaenoptera borealis sei whale
Balaenoptera edeni Bryde's whale
Balaenoptera acutorostrata minke whale
Megaptera novaeangliae humpback whale
Eschrichtius robustus gray whale
Physeter macrocephalus sperm whale
Kogia breviceps pygmy sperm whale
Kogia simus dwarf sperm whale
Berardius bairdii Baird's beaked whale
Berardius arnuxii Arnoux' beaked whale
Tasmacetus shepherdi Shepherd's beaked whale
Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier's beaked whale
Hyperoodon ampullatus northern bottlenose whale
Hyperoodon planifrons southern bottlenose whale
Mesoplodon pacificus Longman's beaked whale
Mesoplodon hectori Hector's beaked whale
Mesoplodon mirus True's beaked whale
Mesoplodon europaeus Gervais' beaked whale
Mesoplodon ginkgodens ginkgo-toothed beaked whale
Mesoplodon grayi Gray's beaked whale
Mesoplodon carlhubbsi Hubbs' beaked whale
Mesoplodon stejnegeri Stejneger's beaked whale
Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrew's beaked whale
Mesoplodon bidens Sowerby's beaked whale
Mesoplodon layardii strap-toothed whale
Mesoplodon densirostris Blainville's beaked whale
Mesoplodon peruvianus Pygmy beaked whale
Mesoplodon traversii 1)
(Mesoplodon bahamondi)
spade-toothed whale
Bahamonde's beaked whale
Mesoplodon perrini 2) Perrin's beaked whale
Steno bredanensis rough-toothed dolphin
Sousa chinensis Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin
Sousa teuszii Atlantic hump-backed dolphin
Sotalia fluviatilis tucuxi
Tursiops truncatus bottlenose dolphin
Stenella longirostris spinner dolphin
Stenella clymene clymene dolphin
Stenella frontalis Atlantic spotted dolphin
Stenella attenuata pantropical spotted dolphin
Stenella coeruleoalba striped dolphin
Delphinus delphis common dolphin
Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser's dolphin
Lagenorhynchus albirostris white-beaked dolphin
Lagenorhynchus acutus Atlantic white-sided dolphin
Lagenorhynchus obliquidens Pacific white-sided dolphin
Lagenorhynchus obscurus dusky dolphin
Lagenorhynchus australis Peale's dolphin
Lagenorhynchus cruciger hourglass dolphin
Cephalorhynchus commersonii Commerson's dolphin
Cephalorhynchus heavisidii Heaviside's dolphin
Cephalorhynchus eutropia black dolphin
Cephalorhynchus hectori Hector's dolphin
Lissodelphis borealis northern right whale dolphin
Lissodelphis peronii southern right whale dolphin
Grampus griseus Risso's dolphin
Peponocephala electra melon-headed whale
Feresa attenuata pygmy killer whale
Pseudorca crassidens false killer whale
Globicephala melaena long-finned pilot whale
Globicephala macrorhynchus short-finned pilot whale
Orcinus orca killer whale
Orcaella brevirostris Irrawaddy dolphin
Delphinapterus leucas beluga, white whale
Monodon monoceros narwhal
Platanista gangetica Ganges river dolphin
Platanista minor Indus river dolphin
Inia geoffrensis boto, Amazon river dolphin
Lipotes vexillifer baiji, Yangtze river dolphin
Pontoporia blainvillei franciscana, La Plata dolphin
Phocoena phocoena harbor porpoise
Phocoena sinus vaquita
Phocoena dioptrica spectacled porpoise
Phocoena spinnipinnis Burmeister's porpoise
Neophocaena phocaenoides finless porpoise
Phocoenoides dalli Dall's porpoise
main source:
M. Klinowksa (1991)
Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World The IUCN Red Data Book
IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

Note: the above list is a commonly used list of cetacean species, but some authors recognize more separate families and species (for instance 2 species of bottlenose dolphins: Tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin) and Tursiops aduncus (Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin) and 2 or 3 species of common dolphins: Delphinus delphis (shortbeaked common dolphin), Delphinus capensis (longbeaked common dolphin) and Delphinus tropicalis (Arabian common dolphin)). See for instance:

Dale W. Rice (1999)
Marine Mammals of the World - Systematics and Distribution
Society for Marine Mammalogy Special Publication 4
Society for Marine Mammalogy, Lawrence, Kansas.
  1. Mesoplodon traversii appears to be a senior synonym for M. bahamondi. See:
    A.L. van Helden, A.N. Baker, M.L. Dalebout, J.C. Reyes, K. van Waerebeek and C.S. Baker (2002)
    Resurrection of Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874), senior synonym for M. bahamondi Reyes, van Waerebeek, Cárdenas and Yáñez, 1995 (Cetacea: Ziphiidae)
    Marine Mammal Science 18(3): 609-621
  2. New species, recently discovered based on DNA analysis. See:
    M.L. Dalebout, J.G. Mead, C.S.Baker, A.N. Baker and A.L. van Helden (2002)
    A new species of beaked whale, Mesoplodon perrini sp. n. (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) discovered through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences.
    Marine Mammal Science 18(3): 577-608

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