Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins

Dolphins are among the most fascinating and intelligent creatures on the planet. These marine mammals are known for their playful behaviour, acrobatic skills, and highly social nature. With over 40 different species of dolphins found in waters around the world, these animals have captured the attention and admiration of humans for centuries. From the acrobatic spins of the bottlenose dolphin to the unique pink coloration of the Amazon river dolphin, each species has its own distinct characteristics that make them fascinating to study and observe.


Sl No.CharacteristicsDescription
1Common NameIndo-Pacific humpback dolphin 
2Scientific NameSousa chinensis
3Length2.4 to 2.7 metres
4Colourdark grey to pinkish-white
8Average weight 150 to 235 kg 
9Food habitsmullets, sardines, croakers, and squid
10HabitatThey are found in shallow waters close to the shore, such as estuaries, lagoons, bays, and river mouths 
11Any interesting facts about them 

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a species of marine mammal that inhabits the coastal waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin has a unique coloration that varies from dark grey to pinkish-white. They have darker dorsal fins, pectoral fins, and flukes, with lighter coloration on their belly. Adult males can reach lengths of up to 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) and weigh up to 235 kg (518 lbs), while adult females are slightly smaller, reaching lengths of up to 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) and weighing up to 150 kg (330 lbs). The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin has a distinctive hump in front of its dorsal fin, which is more pronounced in males. They have a long, slender beak, and a curved mouthline that gives them a permanent “smile.” They also have a small dorsal fin that is positioned towards the middle of their back. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are known for their social behaviour, as they often swim and hunt in groups. They are also known to display acrobatic behaviour such as breaching, tail slapping, and somersaulting. This species is also known for its unique vocalisations, which include whistles, clicks, and burst pulses, used for communication and echolocation. In addition, they are one of the few dolphin species that inhabit shallow, murky waters close to the shore

Food Habits

The diet of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin mainly consists of a variety of fish and cephalopods, including mullets, sardines, croakers, and squid. They are known to use a hunting technique called “fish whacking,” where they use their flukes to hit and stun schools of fish before catching them.


In India, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is found along the west coast in the Arabian Sea, as well as in the Bay of Bengal along the east coast. They are found in shallow waters close to the shore, such as estuaries, lagoons, bays, and river mouths. The Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, a subspecies of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, is found in the waters around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Vulnerable Species

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and its population is declining. The habitat of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is threatened by coastal development, such as the construction of ports, harbours, and offshore oil and gas exploration. Overfishing can reduce the availability of prey for dolphins and affect their survival. Pollution in coastal waters can have harmful effects on the health of dolphins and their prey. Increased boat traffic in coastal waters can disrupt the behaviour and feeding patterns of dolphins.

Protected Areas

There are several national parks and protected areas in India that are home to the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, as well as other species of marine mammals and wildlife. Here are some of the major national parks and protected areas in India that are known to have populations of this species:

The Gulf of Kutch Marine National Park in Gujarat is a marine protected area that is home to several species of marine mammals, including the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin.

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park in Tamil Nadu, this national park is known for its coral reefs and is home to a variety of marine mammals, including the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin.

Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal, this national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its mangrove forests and rich biodiversity, including the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin.

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands includes several islands and coral reefs and is home to a diverse range of marine life, including the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, a subspecies of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin.

These protected areas play an important role in the conservation of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and other marine species by providing habitat protection, research opportunities, and ecotourism opportunities that promote conservation awareness.

Conservation of the Species

Conserving these dolphin species will require a multi-faceted approach involving several different strategies. 

Protecting the natural habitats of these dolphin species is crucial. This includes maintaining water quality, preventing pollution, and regulating the use of river systems, estuaries, and coastlines. 

Human activities such as fishing, boating, and development can have a significant impact on dolphin populations. Reducing the impact of these activities by regulating fishing practices, reducing noise pollution, and minimising boat traffic can help to preserve dolphin populations. 

Raising awareness of the importance of these dolphin species and their habitats can help to generate support for conservation efforts. Education programs can be implemented for local communities, schools, and tourists to teach them about the importance of these species. 

Conducting research and monitoring programs can help to better understand these species and their habitats. This information can be used to develop effective conservation strategies and monitor the success of these efforts over time. Effective conservation efforts will require collaboration and partnerships between various stakeholders, including government agencies, NGOs, local communities, and researchers. By working together, these groups can develop and implement effective conservation strategies to protect these dolphin species. 

With the increase in marine tourism activities such as boat rides and water sports, it is important to regulate these activities in a manner that ensures the safety and conservation of dolphins. This can be done by enforcing strict guidelines on boat traffic, keeping a safe distance from dolphins, and avoiding activities that can cause stress or harm to dolphins. 

Pollution can be extremely harmful to dolphin populations. This includes plastic pollution, chemical pollution, and noise pollution. Reducing pollution levels in the environment can help to protect these species and their habitats.


In conclusion, the conservation of these dolphin species is critical to maintain the biodiversity of our planet and the health of aquatic ecosystems. We must take concerted efforts to protect these intelligent and charismatic creatures from habitat loss, human impact, pollution, and other threats. By implementing the strategies mentioned above, we can ensure the long-term survival of these unique species and the preservation of their habitats for future generations.

image_pdfDownload As PDF

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *