Fun Dusky Dolphins Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 04, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Dusky dolphin facts are great for kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.6 Min

Dusky dolphins are beautiful marine creatures. Dolphins have always been an animal of great interest to humans, and the dusky dolphins do not fail to carry on the legacy. They are inhabitants of the southern hemisphere. There are three subspecies of dusky dolphins based on their geographic range. Their populations can be found in New Zealand, southern Africa (Obscurus obscurus), and South America (Obscurus fitzroyi). The oceans surrounding these regions are the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Their life history begins and ends in the coastal waters of the continental shelf. These coastal waters need to pass the criteria of being temperate waters for the dusky dolphins to reside in them. They are mostly found in shallow water and large groups. However, populations of the species, dusky dolphins are known to face threats from humans. It is so because humans fish for them in vast nets and use these creatures for commercial purposes.

Want to know more about these exciting creatures? Then keep on reading. For more similar content, check out the striped dolphin and the rough-toothed dolphin.

Dusky Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Dusky Dolphin?

The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) is a type of dolphin.

What class of animal does a Dusky Dolphin belong to?

The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) belongs to the class Mammalia.

How many Dusky Dolphins are there in the world?

The exact number of dusky dolphins in the world is not known. However, out of the three species of dusky dolphins, the population of the New Zealand dusky dolphins is known to stand at 12,000-20,000. The population of the other two species (South American and African) of dusky dolphins is not known.

Where does a Dusky Dolphin live?

Dusky dolphins are categorized into three different species based on their locations. These three species of dusky dolphins are respectively native to the southwestern region of Africa, South America, and New Zealand. Dusky dolphins of South America can be spotted on the Falkland Islands coast and the coasts of Argentina. All dusky dolphins reside in the oceans situated in the southern hemisphere.

What is a Dusky Dolphin's habitat?

Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) live in shallow regions of marine water or oceans. They are not deep-sea dwellers. The continental shelves are home to all three species of dusky dolphins. They need cool water to live.

Who do Dusky Dolphins live with?

Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) are social animals. As a result, they prefer to live in groups. In general, dusky dolphins are extremely friendly creatures who like feeding and playing together. At night, they often migrate in groups. This group often comprises huge numbers when they go out for feeding. This species also gel well with humans, as do most species of dolphins.

How long does a Dusky Dolphin live?

Dusky dolphins can live up to 30 years old or even more.

How do they reproduce?

The sexual maturity of the dusky dolphins differs in their subspecies and their habitat location. The male species of these marine mammals compete against each other for the female's attention. Once the female chooses a male, subsequent breeding takes place. The breeding season takes place in the spring season. After breeding, these marine mammals give birth to their young ones after an 11-month gestation period. Since the breeding season takes place in spring, these marine mammals usually give birth between June and August. Following the birth procedure, one young dusky dolphin weighing approximately 11 lb (5 kg), is welcomed into the world. The young dusky dolphin is dependent on the mother's milk for a year and a half after its birth.

What is their conservation status?

As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the dusky dolphins are of Least Concern. This means that as of now, dusky dolphin populations are stable and there is no threat to the extinction of the dusky dolphin populations.

Dusky Dolphin Fun Facts

What do Dusky Dolphins look like?

A Dusky dolphin jumping in the water.

The dusky dolphin is a resident of the southern hemisphere and has smooth skin like all other dolphins. Their skin is devoid of hair or scales. Their back is dark gray or bluish-black. The underparts of this dolphin are whitish. On the side of their bodies, there is a gray line that runs straight from their beak to their tail. Their smooth skin helps them to swiftly swim in the water. There are two fin-like structures present horizontally on their tail. This also helps them in swimming. They also have a dorsal fin. This dorsal fin helps them to navigate their direction in the water. Interstate, the beak of this creature is more blunt and rounded than the beak of other dolphins. Their mouths have 24-26 sharp teeth for catching prey.

How cute are they?

Dusky dolphins are very cute animals, much like the other dolphins. A dolphin like this has an adorable face with a protruding snout that appears to adorn a smile.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about the communication methods of dusky dolphins. It is only known that dusky dolphins communicate with each other through the sense of touch and sound. Like most marine animals, dusky dolphins can also perceive chemical signals.

How big is a Dusky Dolphin?

Dusky dolphins usually measure as long as 5.4-6.9 ft (165-210 cm). It is about ten times the size of a sardine.

How fast can a Dusky Dolphin swim?

Although the specific swimming speed of dusky dolphins is unsure, it is assumed to be roughly 23 mph (37 kph).

How much does a Dusky Dolphin weigh?

Dusky dolphins weigh around 152-210 lb (69-100 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male dolphin is called a bull, and the female dolphin is called a cow.

What would you call a baby Dusky Dolphin?

Baby dusky dolphins are called calves.

What do they eat?

Fish is consumed as the primary source of food by the dusky dolphin. Dusky dolphins feed on fish like anchovies and sardines. They also feed on other marine animals like squids and octopuses. Shrimps are among the crustaceans that these species of dolphins eat. Interestingly, the dusky dolphin can feed on creatures residing at the surface of the ocean as well as the bottom. Dusky dolphins feed in groups that may consist of 300 members who attack schools of fish to feed on them.

Are they poisonous?

Although dusky dolphins are not exactly poisonous, their meat contains mercury. This can be harmful when consumed in large amounts.

Would they make a good pet?

Since dolphin is a wild animals, it might not be a good idea to keep them in confinement as pets. Moreover, the dusky dolphins are extremely social beings and need the presence of more dusky dolphins or other animals. They have a diet that is difficult to maintain as well. Hence, keeping the dusky dolphin as a pet is not advisable.

Did you know...

Apart from the dusky dolphin, there are 42 other species of dolphin. Dusky dolphins are medium-sized in comparison to other dolphins.

Dusky dolphins have extremely flexible bodies. They are one of the fastest types of dolphins to exist in the whole world.

What sound does a Dusky Dolphin make?

Dusky dolphins often are seen making sounds. There are three main types of vocalizations that they give out. These are click trains, whistles, and burst pulses. As the name suggests, click trains are a collection of small clicking sounds which differ in frequency. The dusky dolphin gives out whistles while they interact with other species of dolphin. On the other hand, burst pulses are clicks but they are quick and sound like a buzz. The burst pulses are the most frequently used sound by this dolphin species.

Threats to the Dusky Dolphin

The natural predators of this marine mammal are mainly compromised of sharks and whales like killer whales (orcas). Apart from killer whales (orcas), the New Zealand species of this marine mammal can also fall prey to sharks like the great white shark, the seven-gill shark, the blue shark, the shortfin mako, and the sleeper shark. Besides natural predators, the main threat to dusky dolphins is humans. As more and more human activity is taking place on water bodies, the homes of the dusky dolphins are getting smaller and smaller. Other activities like fishing for commercial purposes are posing a threat to the dusky dolphins.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including common dolphin facts and hourglass dolphin facts.

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

Dusky Dolphins Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish, octopus, squid

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

152-210 lb (69-100 kg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

temperate marine water

Where Do They Live?

south america, new zealand, africa

How Long Were They?

5.4-6.9 ft (165-210 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Lagenorhynchus obscurus

What Do They Look Like?

Grey, white, black, blue

Skin Type

Smooth skin

What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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