Dolphins you can see
The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
Overall grey coloration, ranging from a lighter belly to mid-grey flanks and a darker dorsal surface. Fairly long and prominent beak.
Adults – Up to 2.4m in males, females slightly smaller
Newborn – Just over 1m
Adult – approximately 220kg
Newborn – approximately 20kg
Squid and pelagic fish
Sighted all year round, seen on 80% of our trips
Varies from 5-15 animals, but at times over 100
All year round we see the playful, smiling bottlenose dolphin, a highly intelligent marine mammal. Their streamlined bodies allow them to move swiftly through the water and they can reach speeds of over 30 km an hour. They surface often to breathe, doing so two or three times a minute. Much like other dolphins, they are very playful and acrobatic, and we often see them leaping and dancing in the surf zone between Buffalo Bay and Brenton on Sea. Bottlenose dolphins travel in pods and communicate with each other by a complex system of squeaks and whistles.
The Long Beaked Common Dolphin
Complex and variable coloration, the tan lateral “window” and a white blaze on the flank form an hourglass pattern with a dark upper mandible, flipper and eye stripe.
Adult – Up to 2.5m in males, slightly smaller in females
Newborns – On average around 0.98m
Adult – approximately 130kg
Newborn – Unknown
Small schooling fish and squid
Sighted all year round, but peak sightings between October and January during season they are sighted on 80% of our trips
On average from 10 to over 100 animals, but can form very large schools
One of the most delightful marine mammals that we are fortunate enough to see on a regular basis in our local waters is the common dolphin of which there are two species within the genus: the short-beaked and the long-beaked common dolphin. They are very social, and live in groups called pods. The number in a pod can be several hundred or many thousands, incredibly the largest numbering over 10,000 individuals. When large groups are seen, it is evidence of an abundance of bait fish in the area and it is an exciting show stopping spectacle to see. What also makes them so appealing is that they are often seen taking part in sensational acrobatic behaviours, including somersaults, pitch poling, breaching and bow riding, moving with effortless grace through the water. They socially interact with one another using touch, echolocation and various forms of vocalisation including whistling, whining, and clicking.
The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin
Identified by its small, curved dorsal fin set above a distinct hump, and has similar coloration to the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin
Adult – Up to 2.6m in males, females slightly smaller
Newborns – Around 1m
Adult – Approximately 260kg in males
Newborns – Approximately 14kg
Small fish and squid living near ocean floor
Sighted all year round, Seen on 85 % of our trips
Small groups of 1-10 animals
We are very enamoured of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, a member of the genus sousa and easily identified by the obvious humps and elongated dorsal fins found on their backs. We have regular sightings of them within Buffalo Bay and Brenton and we consider this a real privilege because they are very rare. It is a shallow water species usually found congregating in very small groups, mostly around rocky reefs or sand gullies, rarely deeper than about 50 metres. Unfortunately there is limited scientific data on this species of dolphin, but what is known is that their numbers are in decline. Their propensity for inshore areas makes them extremely susceptible to the negative influence of humans; including pollution, bad fishing practises and recreational activities. They have been listed as Vulnerable on South Africa’s Red Data list. It is estimated that there are only about 1000 left on our coastline.