Kidadl

FOR AGES 3-18

Fun Benguela Dolphin Facts For Kids

Contents
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more

Share this article

The Benguela dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii), more commonly known as the Heaviside's dolphin, is one of the four members of the Cephalorhynchus genus of dolphins. They are usually found in coastal waters in small groups. These dolphins are always on the move in search of food in their small habitat range as they are a non-migratory species.

Heaviside's dolphins are social, friendly, and curious animals that will approach humans or boats in an effort to get a better look. These dolphins are fast swimmers as they perform acrobatics in the water as a form of play.

If you like what you read, do check out bottlenose dolphin facts and striped dolphin facts.

Benguela Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Benguela dolphin?

The Benguela dolphin is a species of dolphin that are endemic to the Benguela ecosystem. Heaviside's dolphins are among the small-sized dolphins and are common sightings in their native region or range of the coast of South Africa, the coast of Namibia, and the West Coast of Africa which includes the Benguela current where they are found in abundance.

What class of animal does a Benguela dolphin belong to?

This cetacean, like most other whales and dolphins, belongs to the Mammalia class of animals.

How many Benguela dolphins are there in the world?

According to research based on population surveys by the IUCN Red List, these marine mammals are scattered throughout the South African coast where it houses an estimated 527 individuals along the coastline, 3,429 dolphins along the west coast of Saint Helena Bay, and 6,345 dolphins living around the coast of Namibia. Walvis Bay in Namibia has a population of 508 dolphins, and Lüderitz, another part of the southwestern coast of Namibia, has an estimated population of 494 dolphins.

Where does a Benguela dolphin live?

The Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) species occur in restricted waters in small groups in only the South Atlantic Ocean and can be sighted year-round in coastal waters, cold temperate seas, and oceans off the coast of South Africa, Namibia, and southern Angola.

What is a Benguela dolphin's habitat?

Heaviside's dolphins are residents of the coastal waters off the coast of South Africa, Namibia, and southern Angola. These animals are found in water at a depth of around 328 ft. (100 m) throughout the cold, north-flowing Benguela current. A large percentage of Heaviside's dolphin sightings can be found in a population of small groups in surface temperature waters. The movements of these marine animals are also somewhat influenced by climate change as they transverse the sea in search of a better habitat range.

Who do Benguela dolphins live with?

Heaviside's dolphins are social animals, much like other dolphins. These dolphins often form a group when they are hunting and use their body to trap the fish or other prey before feeding on them. Since dolphins are known around the world for their social behavior, the Heaviside's dolphin falls under the same social group as they often approach boats and ride along the shoreline of the sea where they can be found in groups.

How long does a Benguela dolphin live?

The lifespan of this species of dolphins is estimated to be between 20-26 years. The maximum lifespan length is based on the oldest recorded Heaviside's dolphin that survived for 26 years.

How do they reproduce?

There is not much information available to determine if the Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) is monogamous or polygamous, unlike the spinner dolphins or the common dolphins who practice polygamy.

The sexual maturity for the male and female of this dolphin species is between six to nine years and five to nine years, respectively. The breeding period for these marine animals lasts year-round but is mainly from spring to late summer in a breeding interval of two to four years.

After copulation and fertilization, the female Heaviside's dolphin goes through a gestation period of ten to eleven months after which a single-life calf is born. The calf is often seen swimming alongside its mother near her dorsal fin.

What is their conservation status?

Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) is a species of dolphin that has been categorized as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened species. They have been listed as an endangered species in appendix II of the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

These friendly dolphins that often approach boats and bow rides are often targeted by fishermen in South African regions and some parts of Namibia. As a result, they are protected from commercial fishing and hunting.

Benguela Dolphin Fun Facts 

What do Benguela dolphins look like?

Benguela dolphins are a protected species.

Benguela dolphin appearance is similar for both the males and the females as these dolphins do not experience sexual dimorphism. Adults have between 48-70 teeth. In their native range, Heaviside's dolphins can be differentiated easily from other dolphins thanks to the presence of a robust body, blunt head, and a triangular dorsal fin. The Heaviside's dolphin has a dark gray body surface with a dark blue-black patch between the dorsal fin and the snout.

The underside of this dolphin is white and forms a shape of a three-pronged fork. A dark blue-black stripe can be seen on their body that runs from the cape to the blowhole.

How cute are they?

Heaviside's dolphins are friendly in nature and will often approach the shore in small groups to search for food or to interact with humans because of their curiosity. The calf stands atop the cuteness quotient!

How do they communicate?

Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) use visual, tactile, and acoustic communication methods. These dolphins have extraordinary vision underwater which helps them search for food in deep waters. They rub against one another as a form of tactile communication and also use whistles and clicks to communicate. Pheromones secreted through anal glands are also used as a method of communication. Like most whales and dolphins, Heaviside's dolphins rely on echolocation to transverse through the ocean, especially to catch prey or to relocate to new regions due to the effects of climate change.

How big is a Benguela dolphin?

As full-grown adults, the Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) has an average body length of 5.5-5.9 ft. (1.67-1.8 m). This is slightly larger than the Commerson's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) which grows between 3.9-5.6 ft. (1.2-1.7 m).

How fast can a Benguela dolphin swim?

The Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) speed cannot be stated due to data deficiency. Through records, it can be stated that the movement of these dolphins is small as in one study a juvenile male Benguela dolphin traveled only 98.1 mi (158 km) north of its tagged location and another juvenile traveled 85.1 mi (137 km) over a period of 17 months.

How much does a Benguela dolphin weigh?

The Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) is amongst the heaviest dolphin in the Cephalorhynchus genus with an average weight of 132.2-165.3 lbs. (60-75 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male Heaviside's dolphin is called a bull, and a female is called a cow.

What would you call a baby Benguela dolphin?

A baby Benguela dolphin is called a calf. Calves are often seen swimming alongside their mother's dorsal fin which protects them from predators.

What do they eat?

Heaviside's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) is a carnivorous animal and has a diet that is made up of fish, octopus, and squid.

Are they dangerous?

No, the Heaviside's dolphin is not dangerous. It can, however, act curious towards humans and end up hurting them unknowingly, so it is recommended to not get too close to them.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these species are Near Threatened and protected which prohibits their trade as exotic pets on the African continent. Also, their diet is something that cannot be provided to them in captivity.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The Heaviside's dolphin has no particular effects on their ecosystem.

Even as of today, these dolphins are illegally poached in South Africa.

These dolphins are often caught in commercial fishery nets and are often released back into the water.

The Orca (Orcinus orca), most commonly known as the killer whale, is the largest dolphin in the world.

Are Benguela dolphins endangered?

The Heaviside's dolphin is not an Endangered species but it is a Near Threatened species. There are many Benguela dolphin rescue programs that help in curbing the number of threats such as illegal poaching.

How did Benguela dolphins get their name? 

Captain Haviside brought in a specimen in the early 19th century to the UK from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. When Zoologist John Edward Gray was describing these creatures, he confused Captain Haviside with John Heaviside, a surgeon. Thus, this species got the name of Heaviside's dolphin. It is also known as Haviside's dolphin or the Benguela dolphin since it is found in the Benguela currents of southern Angola.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our vaquita facts and Amazon river dolphin facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dolphin color by numbers coloring pages.

Subscribe for virtual tools, STEM-inspired play, creative tips and more

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s and and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.