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Dolphins and Porpoises

Facts

  • Habitats
    Oceans and freshwater rivers

Dolphins and porpoises delight us with their playful antics and warm our hearts with their friendly faces. Marine species are the most well-known, but there are several species that live in freshwater rivers. All are air-breathing, warm-blooded mammals that nurse their young. The difference between a dolphin and a porpoise has to do with their appearance: dolphins have longer snouts, bigger mouths, more curved dorsal fins, and longer, leaner bodies than porpoises.

Freshwater dolphin species and facts

Swimming through fresh waters in parts of South America and Asia is what one might consider an unexpected figure: the dolphin. It joins the ranks of the shark and the sea turtle as some of the oldest creatures on Earth. And while they're most commonly associated with oceans, dolphins—and porpoises—can actually be found in several major rivers on two continents.

Why They Matter

  • Dolphins and porpoises are at the top of the food chain and have an important role in the overall balance of the marine environment. They can tell us a lot about the health of the ocean, such as the presence of pollution or the decline in fish. They are also very popular with tourists.

Related Species