Chilean Dolphin Facts
- First of all, the marvelous Chilean Dolphin stands out from its related species for a variety of reasons. Among those is the quite sad fact that it remains one of the least studied of all known cetaceans. In fact, the majority of what little knowledge scientists have of this magnificent creature comes from the study of deceased specimens, washed ashore.
- The marine mammal also goes by the other common names of the Black Dolphin, and the tonina. Regardless of the name applied to it, this animal represents one of only four species in its genus. Unfortunately, it also constitutes an extremely rare variety of dolphin. That’s because current estimates place its remaining population at no more than 5,000 individuals.
- Furthermore, even this estimate remains uncertain. The actual number may be much smaller. Due to its scant population, highly restricted habitat range, and hunting practices, the IUCN now lists it as Near Threatened. In addition to illegal hunting, which continues, it also faces several other threats to its existence. The dual threats of climate change and habitat loss rank high on this list, as they do for many species today.
Chilean Dolphin Physical Description
The gorgeous Chilean Dolphin perfectly personifies the principle that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. That’s because one of the most notable facts about the gorgeous animal remains its sheer physical size. That’s because this beautiful cetacean ranks as one of the smallest of all known types of dolphins.
Mature individuals attain an average length of about 5.6 ft (1.7 m). The animal also boasts an extremely thick body shape. In fact, its girth sometimes equals as much as 65% of its length. In addition, it displays a rather blunt head for a dolphin. Furthermore, its flippers and dorsal fin attain a much smaller size, in relation to body size, than most dolphins.
However, its color pattern remains its most striking feature. The species also displays a very slight degree of sexual dimorphism, in regards to its coloring. The body displays a melange of many shades of gray, which remains the dominant color. The top of the head shows a light gray, while the jaw shows dark, and features a dark band extending to the flippers. Yet, by contrast, the throat displays an off- white color.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Delphinidae
- Genus: Cephalorhynchus
- Species: C. eutropia
Chilean Dolphin Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Quite regrettably, the beautiful Chilean Dolphin appears to inhabit an extremely restricted habitat range. Not surprisingly, as its common name readily suggests, the animal inhabits the waters off the coast of Chile, in South America. Not only does the creature live nowhere else, to our knowledge, but it also does not appear to migrate.
Further limiting its options, the wonderful animal also prefers shallow waters. In fact, it rarely appears in areas with a water depth in excess of 656 ft (200 m). Additionally, it appears to be quite fond of rapidly flowing tidal areas and the mouths of rivers. But, it also likes to spend much of its time in such other locations as bays, channels, and fjords. It even occasionally enters rivers themselves.
This fabulous cetacean is rarely spotted. But, when it does make an appearance, it usually appears in small groups. These typically number from 2 – 10 individuals. Larger groups occur, but only rarely. The Chilean Dolphin primarily consumes small fish, crustaceans, and squid. Unfortunately, researchers known very little about such things as its mating habits. Scientists estimate its average lifespan to be about 20 years.