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Mammals of the ocean

Family Delphinidae


False Killer Whale
Pygmy Killer Whale
Melon-headed Whale


Short-Beaked Common Dolphin
Dusky Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin

Family Balaenopteridae


Blue Whale
Humpback Whale

Order Cetacea

Cetaceans are a fair-sized group of mammals made up of 13 families and 81 (known) species. Cetaceans are marine mammals and range in size from 6 to 100 ft in length. The order Cetacea includes the blue whale, the largest animal on Earth. There are 3 distinct groups of cetaceans, the whales, the dolphins, and the porpoises. These three groups are found in two suborders: Odontoceti (toothed whales) and Mysticeti (baleen whales). All porpoises and dolphins, as well as some whales, are toothed whales. The other whales, such as the blue whale and the minke whale, are baleen whales. Baleen whales feed mainly on plankton and krill and have giant plates, called baleen or whalebone, for teeth.

Of the dolphins, porpoises and whales, whales are the largest. The toothed whales are typically large with square heads and the baleen whales are large with tapering heads. Dolphins are much smaller than whales and have streamline bodies with a pronounced beak. Porpoises are generally the same size with streamlined bodies, but the head is usually blunter with a less- distinguishable beak. Killer whales, pilot whales, harbour porpoises, and vaquitas are all examples of porpoises.

The 13 families are:


Platanistidae (Ganges and Indus river dolphins)
Pontoporiidae (Yangtze river dolphin)
Iniidae (Amazon river dolphin)
Monodontidae (beluga, narwhal)
Phocoenidae (porpoises)
Delphinidae (various dolphins and blackfish)
Ziphiidae (beaked whales)
Physeteridae (sperm whales)
Koiidae (pygmy sperm whales)


Balaenidae (bowhead whales)
Neobalaenidae (pygmy right whales)
Eschrichtiidae (grey whales)
Balaenopteridae (blue whales, minke whales, sei whales)