10 Differences Between Dolphins and Porpoises

Find out the major differences between dolphins and porpoises.

To an ordinary person Porpoises and Dolphins may look quite the same, that’s because they belong to the same scientific Order i.e Cetacea, which also includes whales, hence there are a lot of similarities between these sea mammals.

But they belong to different families, dolphins belong to the Delphinidae family and porpoises belong to the family Phocoenidae. Hence there are differences between dolphins and porpoises, the major ones are listed here:

  1. Porpoises are smaller seldom exceeding 2.5 m (7 feet), where as most dolphins grow to more than 3.5 m (10 feet).
  2. Porpoises have flattened spade shaped teeth, whereas dolphins have conical teeth.
  3. Dolphins have a long beaks (Rostrum). The beaks of porpoises are very small.
  4. The dorsal fin of dolphins is wavelike, porpoises tend to have a triangular dorsal fin.
  5. Porpoises die early usually between 10-20 yrs. Dolphins live longer reaching their fifties.
  6. Porpoises are more reproductively active, female porpoises get pregnant within 4-6 weeks of delivering an offspring. Dolphins tend to be lesser active.
  7. Dolphins are more socially active and interactive. Porpoises tend to remain shy and avoid coming near humans.
  8. Some marine biologists believe that whereas dolphins use underwater whistles for communication, porpoises do not.
  9. The Melon (ovoid fatty organ found in all Odontocetes) of dolphins is more round and bulbous in dolphins compared to porpoises.
  10. You will mostly find dolphins not porpoises in parks, water tanks and even at sea.

I hope I’ve covered most or all the distinguishing dolphin and porpoises differences .

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