Dolphin Species in San Diego

Dolphins are very social animals and often enjoy playing in the yacht bow wake. It is always a lot of fun when they are around and of course their appearance makes for great photos! We do often encounter dolphins on sightseeing charters. If this is something you are interested in please let the charter booking person know.

The are currently 40 dolphin species that are in existence. Their streamlined bodies are idea for ocean life. They have exceptional hearing both for in and out of the water. Their echo location abilities are exceptional and they can survive even if they are blind. As a rule they do prefer warmer waters but there are exceptions. Females mate only one each two or three years.

Unfortunately dolphins face many dangers!. In Japan, they are hunted still even in the face of international condemnation in dolphin driving hunts. The also face dangers as by-catch, pollution and loss of habitat. Dolphins are still used by the military and some theme parks as entertainment. We encourage you to be aware of these practices and speak out again them.


Pacific white Sided Dolphin
Pacific White-sided Dolphin
Short-beak Common Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin


Fun Dolphin Species Facts

In Good Company

These dolphins keep close company. White-sided dolphins swim in groups of 10 to 100, and can often be seen bow-riding and doing somersaults. Members form a close-knit group and will often care for a sick or injured dolphin.

Fast Swimmers

The white-sided is a fast swimmer (over 60 km/h!), and breaching behavior and aerial acrobatics are common with this species.

They are very entertaining to watch.

Never Sleep

Dolphins aren’t involuntary breathers. They consciously swim to the surface to take a breath, they never fully sleep. One side of their brain is always active. During this period they show signs of insulin resistance related to type 2 diabetes. When they awake this disappears.

Gestation Period

The dolphin gestation is in the range of 7 -17 months. Usually one calf is born (twins are rare) and the mother immediately takes the calf to the surface for it’s first breath. The calf will nurse from 11 month to 2 years and stay with the mother until it is between 3 and 8 years old.

Dolphin Species Lifespan

The average lifespan goes vary depending on special but generally an average life space is around 16 years although they could live 2 or 3 times this length. The average lifespan on the wild is generally much longer than in captivity.

Pacific White-sided Dolphin Species

Pacific White Sided Dolphin Species

COMMON NAME: Pacific White-sided Dolphin

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

TYPE: Mammal

DIET: Hake, anchovy, squid, herring, salmon, and cod.


SIZE: Between 7.5 and 8.2 ft.

WEIGHT: Up to 440 lbs.

The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is frequently seen in the coastal waters off San Diego. Similar to the Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin but slightly smaller both have beak typed noses and can often be mistaken for porpoises. All dolphins are very social mammals and the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is no exception, traveling in small family pods of a dozen dolphins to larger groups of several hundred. Agile and and energetic, these dolphins enjoy bow riding passing boats and commonly display acrobatic feats leaping, jumping and somersaulting from the water.

The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin easily recognizable for its contrasting white stripes along the sides of their grey-black bodies.

Short-beaked Common Dolphin Species

COMMON NAME: Short-beaked Common Dolphin

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Delphinus delphis

TYPE: Mammal

DIET: Mainly squid and fish and sometimes, clams


SIZE: Up to 7.9 ft.

WEIGHT: Up to 770 lbs.

Short-Beaked Dommon Dolpin Species

There are two types of Common Dolphin which belong to the ‘Delphius’ family that include both the Short Beaked Common Dolphin and Long Beaked Common Dolphin. The Short Beaked Common Dolphin is a slightly smaller species of dolphin reaching 5 ft in length and about 250 lbs. and has a white hourglass design of white on either side. Preferring temperate, warm waters, these social species have been known to travel with small whales, such as the Pilot Whale and can live up to 35 years of age. They can live in aggregations of hundreds or even thousands of dolphins, so can it can be spectacular when seen in such numbers.

Bottlenose Dolphin Species

Bottlenose Dolphin Species

COMMON NAME: Elephant Seal


TYPE: Mammal

DIET: Carnivores


SIZE: Up to 20 ft.

WEIGHT: Up to 4.5 tons

The Bottlenose Dolphin is by far the most recognizable dolphin on the planet, made easily recognizable by the television show “Flipper.” Friendly and incredibly intelligent the television show did not fictionalize this aspect of their behavior. Bottlenose Dolphins are amicable, eager to please and historically have saved humans from drowning and protected from sharks and other open ocean predators. Some historians believe that ancient stories depicting mermaids were actually dolphins, in most cases the Bottle Nosed Dolphin.

Easy to recognize for their permanent smile and all grey bodies, they are the larger than the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin and can be found in coastal waters across the globe, but prefer warm temperate climates. Back in the 1960s the US Navy developed the Navy Marine Mammal Program in which the dolphins complete complex and sometimes dangerous tasks such as detecting underwater mines, conducting surveillance, delivering needed items and guarding equipment. This program is still underway today in San Diego and it is common to see our enlisted Bottle Nose Dolphins on patrol along the coast and taking time while traveling to enjoy the surf with the locals. It is very common to spot the dolphin boats out on the bay – ask your captain to point them out while on your charter.

Book Your Tour

Let us know your wishes, we will be happy to customize the charter for you.

San Diego Whale Watching – Whale Watching Charters – Whale Watching Tours
San Diego Cetacean Charters – San Diego Cetacean Watching – San Diego Cetacean Tours

Pin It on Pinterest

Call Now