Here Is The Difference Between Dolphin And Porpoise You Must Know

Chandrayan Choudhury
Sep 04, 2023 By Chandrayan Choudhury
Originally Published on Nov 10, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Read some difference between dolphin and porpoise in this article
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.9 Min

Both dolphins and porpoises are large marine mammals that are highly energetic and fun-loving.

There are around 32 species of dolphins and six species of porpoises found in the oceans. They are both called toothed whales.

Dolphins and porpoises are both highly intelligent animals in order Artiodactyla. They are carnivorous species that eat other small fishes and crustaceans. Dolphins and porpoises are very much similar looking in nature and that's why people often consider them as the same species.

Well, they are not the same species as they have several differences that separate them. One of the differences is the structure of their mouth, dolphins have long noses or beaks which are absent in porpoises.

Just like that, there are lots of other differences too. In this article, we shall discuss their physical differences and difference in behavior as well. So keep reading!

And if you like reading fun facts then check our facts on the difference between ox and bull and the difference between hare and rabbit.

Difference In Face

Well, for a lot of people dolphins and porpoises seem as though they are the same species because of their similar features and behavior. However, dolphins and porpoises are separate marine species with several differences. Dolphins and porpoises have differences starting from their face, body to their behavior also.

A lot of people consider porpoises close to dolphins in terms of looks but if you look closely, you will see that they are less similar to dolphins and more similar to beluga whales or narwhals. They are more similar to beluga whales because of their face and head structure.

Dolphins and porpoises have completely different-looking heads. Porpoises have a round face with no extended nose or beak parts like dolphins.

Because of the absence of that elongated nose, porpoise species are more similar to beluga whales than dolphins.

Dolphins and porpoises have differences in teeth shape also. If we do porpoise teeth vs dolphin teeth, we shall find that a porpoise has spade-shaped teeth while dolphins have cone-shaped teeth.

Difference In Fins

Dolphins and porpoises are both marine mammals that are similar looking. Both these mammals are related species in the order Artiodactyla. Dolphins are in the family Delphinidae while porpoises are in the family Phocoenidae. These related marine mammals have some differences in their fin structure also.

Both dolphins and porpoises are expert swimmers who live in the ocean. Both the animals have wonderful dorsal fins, flippers, and tails which give them speed in the ocean.

But to be more specific about it, there are differences between the fins that porpoises have and the fins that dolphins have. Dolphins tend to have curved dorsal fins while porpoises have a more triangular dorsal fin.

With the curved dorsal fins and triangular dorsal fins, both porpoises and dolphins have a horizontal tail similar to whales. According to scientists porpoises, dolphins are cetaceans, the order that includes whale species also.

Dolphins are bigger than porpoises.

How are their teeth different?

Dolphin and porpoise species are both cetaceans that roam the ocean in groups. Generally, dolphins have bigger groups than porpoises. Both these animals are fun-loving and cute and people love watching them in the free ocean.

Well, a lot of people think that they are the same ocean animals but surprisingly that's not true. Dolphin species are totally different than porpoises. They have lots of physical and behavioral differences that separate their identity.

Having said this, dolphin and porpoise species have different types of mouth. A dolphin tends to have a leaner mouth with an elongated nose that looks like a beak which is absent in porpoises. Porpoises have a round mouth with no beak.

They have different types of teeth also. Porpoises have typical spade-shaped teeth while dolphin's teeth are more cone-shaped. Apart from mouths, they have differences in fin structure also.

Now, these were differences, but what about similarities? Well, both of them have lots of similarities too. Both dolphins and porpoises are playful in nature and generally seen in groups in the ocean.

Both are mammals and are counted in the family of toothed whales. Both the species are carnivorous in nature who eat on smaller fishes and crustaceans. Both dolphins and porpoises use sound waves to understand the location of other fishes such as their prey.

They also use sound waves to check if any threat is near. Both have complex brains and are very intelligent. These toothed whales are really amazing!

The Difference In The Body Figure

Dolphins and porpoises are called toothed whales. Both of them are several feet long and are expert swimmers. They roam the ocean in search of smaller fish. They are equipped with sharp teeth and magnificent fins. Both have elongated several feet long bodies but still, there are a lot of physical differences.

The first and the best difference is that both dolphins and porpoises have long bodies but dolphins have comparatively longer bodies. Dolphins are way longer than porpoises actually.

Dolphins can be 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) in length while a porpoise is around 5-6.6 ft (1.5-2 m) in length. A harbor porpoise can be around 116.8 lb (53 kg) in weight where a bottlenose dolphin can be around 330.7-1433 lb (150-650 kg).

There are around 32 known species of dolphins in the world and around six species of porpoises in the world. It is seen that dolphins are more social than porpoises. Dolphins become more excited when near humans than porpoises.

Porpoises in the ocean do not readily approach boats while you can find dolphins swimming around you and jumping out. Dolphins are known to interbreed with other dolphin species.

Artificially they can breed with porpoises as well. And yes, Flipper was a bottlenose dolphin!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for the difference between dolphin and porpoise, then why not take a look at the difference between frog and toad, or river dolphin facts?

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Written by Chandrayan Choudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Chandrayan Choudhury picture

Chandrayan ChoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Skilled content writer Chandrayan has a passion for producing compelling and engaging content. With an excellent command of the English language and a talent for research and proofreading, Chandrayan has honed his skills through years of experience in the industry. Chandrayan is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from Tripura University, demonstrating his dedication to the craft of writing. 

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