Difference Between Dolphins and Whales (With Table)

Marine wildlife is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The different species with different appearances, techniques, and habitats make each species unique and special. Dolphins and whales are two of the most worldly known species that live underwater. They are also an integral part of our ecosystem.

Dolphins vs Whales

The difference between Dolphins and Whales is that every dolphin is a whale, but every whale is not a dolphin. It can also be put as dolphins are more like smaller whales. There are several similarities and differences between the two species. Some differences include their method of communication and social groups.

Dolphins are aquatic animals that are widespread but commonly prefer to be in warm waters near tropical zones. They are somewhat smaller whales. They mainly rely on fish and squids for their food. They have a really strong hearing capacity and communicate through vocalization in the forms of whistles and echoes.  

Whales are another type of aquatic animal which are also widespread but commonly prefer to be in cold waters in the northern and southern hemispheres. They do come near the equator for giving birth. Some species are one the largest on the earth. They are not quite social and prefer to be alone.

Comparison Table Between Dolphins and Whales

Parameters of ComparisonDolphins Whales
Family tiesEvery dolphin is a whale.Every whale is not a dolphin.
CommunicationThe most common way of communication for hunting and navigation is echolocation.Singing is a form of communication used by the baleen whale.
Dorsal finsThey are accommodated with well-defined dorsal fins.They are accommodated with tiny or no dorsal fins.
NeckSome have flexible necks.Their evolution over time has helped them in obtaining a fused neck vertebrae.
BlowholesDolphins and toothed whales have a single blowhole.Two blowholes can be found in Baleen whales.
HabitatThey are highly social. They prefer living in groups or pods.Big whales prefer to be more solitary.

What are Dolphins?

Sometimes Dolphins can leap approximately 30 feet. Sexual dimorphism is seen in several species of dolphins. In these, the females are smaller than males. They are accommodated with streamlined bodies and two limbs which are also their flippers. They are not flexible like seals. There are some species that can travel at 29 kilometres per hour. The conical-shaped teeth are used for capturing fast-moving prey.

Their hearing is so incredible that they can hear underwater as well as above the water. It is so strong that they can survive even without seeing. Certain species can dive deeper into the greater depths. They are equipped with blubber that is found under their skin. This layer keeps them warm in the cold water. 

The population of dolphins is widespread. However, they mostly prefer warm water in the tropic zones. The right whale dolphin is one of the few who prefer cold waters. Their main source of food is fish and squids. Larger ones feed on larger mammals. The males mate with different females in a year, Whereas females only mate once in 2 to 3 years. They like to be in groups and help each other in various activities, including raising calves and hunting.

What are Whales?

Whales refer to the widespread and diverse group of complete aquatic placental marine mammals. They belong to the infraorder Cetacea, which does not include dolphins or porpoises. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises fall under the same order as Cetartiodactyla. A whale is a completely aquatic animal. The largest known creature that has ever lived is the blue whale. The second-largest predator is the sperm whale. Several females are larger than males. Whales are not very social creatures. They prefer solidarity.

Baleen whales are whales that have no teeth. However, they are equipped with plates of baleen which are fringe-like structures. These structures help them in expelling the huge mouthfuls of water intake. Their heads have approximately 40 % of their total body mass. Baleen whales have an incredible sense of smell and can communicate by singing.

Toothed whales are those which are equipped with conical teeth for catching fish or squid. They also have incredible hearing and can dive great depths. Their blowholes help them in expelling the air that is taken in. These creatures are warm-blooded. Whales are also capable of travelling at a faster speed. Whales are capable of producing a great variety of vocalizations. Whales are really widespread, but they prefer colder regions with cold waters. Some can travel thousands of miles without feeding.

Main Differences Between Dolphins and Whales

  1. Every dolphin is a whale. However, every whale is not a dolphin. Dolphins are more or less like smaller whales.
  2. The most common way of communication dolphins use for hunting and navigation is echolocation. Singing is a form of communication used by the baleen whale.
  3. Dolphins and toothed whales are accommodated with well-defined dorsal fins. Some whales are accommodated with tiny or no dorsal fins.
  4. Some dolphins have flexible necks. The evolution of whales over time has helped them in obtaining fused neck vertebrae.
  5. Dolphins and toothed whales have a single blowhole. Two blowholes can be found in Baleen whales.
  6. They are highly social. They prefer living in groups or pods. Big whales prefer to be more solitary.

Conclusion

Dolphins and whales belong to the same order. Dolphins are whales, but all whales cannot be dolphins. Dolphins and toothed whales have many similarities in comparison with baleen whales. Dolphins and whales have different capacities in terms of weight, height, length, diving, and food. They have strong hearing and communicate mainly through different vocalizations. Dolphins are more social in comparison with whales. Dolphins and whales are two of the many unique and beautiful animals in marine wildlife. 

References

  1. https://doc1.bibliothek.li/abd/FLML301046.pdf
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/article/culture-in-whales-and-dolphins/FFB6CDC9F75754439FCF345FD942089E
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