People often think of dolphins as a single species of ocean-dwelling creature. But actually, there are many different species of dolphins. Some are far more common than others, which makes them more likely to be the dolphins you'll see on a dolphin tour. Here's a look at those more common dolphin species.
Long-Beaked Common Dolphins
This is probably the type of dolphin you picture in your mind when you hear the word "dolphin." It's the species commonly represented in books and movies. The long-beaked common dolphin is named for its long nose. It's a smaller dolphin species, with most adults measuring around 6 to 8 feet long. You'll see a lot of long-nose common dolphins if you take a tour off the west coast of the U.S. You may also see them if you take a tour off any of the Pacific Islands. They're dark gray in color with a lighter gray area on their bellies. Since long-beaked dolphins are very active and do a lot of leaps out of the water, they are very enjoyable to watch.
Short-Beaked Common Dolphins
This species of dolphin looks a lot like the long-beaked common dolphin, but with a shorter nose. They also tend to be a little smaller, with most measuring less than 6 feet long. Short-beaked common dolphins are often seen along continental shelves and in areas where there are deep, underwater currents. This is likely because they prefer the cool water these features provide. They live in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and you may see them if you take a dolphin tour off the East or West coasts of the U.S., or even from one of the Caribbean Islands.
The bottlenose dolphin is a medium-sized dolphin that tends to be a bit larger than the short or long-nosed common dolphin. It's not uncommon to see males measuring around 10 or 12 feet long, with females being a bit smaller. These dolphins are named for their noses, which are shaped like the tops of bottles. They tend to live in estuaries and other shallow waters, so they are often some of the first dolphins seen as a dolphin tour boat leaves shore. They're more common off the Atlantic coast of the U.S., so you may see them on tours departing from Florida or North Carolina.
Now, when you go on a dolphin tour, you will be more familiar with the various types of dolphins you see. Have a great time!