Dolphins in the Red Sea: A Guide to the Most Common Species
The Red Sea is known for its abundant and diverse marine life, including some of the most fascinating and intelligent creatures on the planet – dolphins. Several species of dolphins inhabit the Red Sea, each with unique characteristics and habitats. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the most commonly seen dolphins in the Red Sea and where to find them.
The most commonly seen dolphins in the Red Sea are the spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins. Spinner dolphins are the three most famous and frequently seen around reefs and in large sheltered lagoons. They are highly sociable and will often be encountered in large groups, particularly in Sha’ab Satayah, Samadi Reef, and Sha’ab El Erg. Spinner dolphins are easily identifiable by their acrobatic spinning leaps, which they perform above and below the water’s surface.
Bottlenose dolphins are also found in the Red Sea and are even known to inhabit waters in British waters. In the Red Sea, they are often seen in the same areas as spinner dolphins and are also highly sociable creatures. Bottlenose dolphins are larger and more robust than spinner dolphins and have a distinctive “bottle-shaped” nose that gives them their name.
The third most commonly seen dolphin in the Red Sea is the Risso’s dolphin. These dolphins are larger and more slender than bottlenose dolphins and are identified by their stocky head and short beak. Risso’s dolphins are not seen as frequently as a spinner or bottlenose dolphins but can be found in similar areas.
Length: 2 to 4 Meter | 6 to 13 Feet
Sadly this wonderful species has been very exploited and is now the main species found in captivity. Remarkably intelligent, the species is now recognized as having three distinct genus, although they are all referred to as Bottlenose Dolphin.
in the Red Sea, the first glimpse of these dolphins is usually from the dive boat as it sails up the Straits of Tiran, as small pods of dolphins will ride the bow wave. Usually, uniformly grey in colour with lighter flanks and belly, they have a short, well-defined snout and their ‘nose’ is now a blow-hole at the top of the head.
Length: 1.3 to 2.5 Meters | 4 to 8 Feet
Most giants aware least four of five species in the genus are known for their displays. Also referred to as the Long-nosed Dolphin, the giant and friendly pod known in the Red Sea is down in the Fury Shoals at Sha’ab Sataya.
They have a slim build and triangular dorsal fin and are dark grey on the upper body, almost changing to black at the rip of the snout, pectoral fins, and tail. There is a distinct line between the color change along the flanks.
Length: 3 to 4 Meter | 10 to 13 Feet
Risso Dolphin is a rare and fascinating species of dolphin that has recently been sighted in Hurghada, Egypt. These dolphins have a unique appearance, with a grey body and distinctive markings that make them easily identifiable.
Unlike other dolphin species, the Risso Dolphin is not known for its displays but rather for its mysterious and enigmatic nature. They have a short snout and a blowhole on the top of their head.
In March 2023, lucky visitors to Hurghada were able to observe the Risso Dolphin up close. These dolphins were seen in the Red Sea, typically found riding the bow wave of dive boats sailing up the Straits of Tiran.
With a slim build and triangular dorsal fin, the Risso Dolphin is a beautiful creature that is dark grey on its upper body, almost changing to black at the tip of its snout, pectoral fins, and tail. There is a distinct line between the color change along the flanks, making them truly stunning to see in their natural habitat.
Observing these dolphins is a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our oceans and the incredible creatures that inhabit them. Let’s continue to work together to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and wonder of the marine world.
False Killer Whale
Length: up to 6 Meters | 20 Feet
Rare but fairly frequently seen species of large-toothed dolphin. Generally black in colour and with a grey throat and neck. Known to display similar characteristics of the true Orca, by attacking and feeding on other cetaceans. Also keptin captivity. They are more commonly pantropical, but strandings have occurred in the South Sea.
False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) are fascinating creatures that belong to the dolphin family. Despite their name, they are not closely related to the killer whale or orca, but they share some similar physical and behavioral traits. They are one of the largest members of the dolphin family, with adult males reaching lengths of up to 6 meters (20 feet) and weighing over 1,500 kg (3,300 lbs).
Unfortunately, false killer whales are also at risk of becoming endangered due to a variety of threats. These include habitat loss, pollution, overfishing, and accidental entanglement in fishing gear. However, conservation efforts are currently underway to protect these fascinating animals and ensure their survival for future generations.
In addition to these three species, several other types of dolphins are occasionally seen in the Red Sea, including the standard, striped, and spotted dolphin. Humpback whales are sometimes spotted in the Red Sea, including in Sha’ab Sataya, Samadi Reef, and Sha’ab El Erg.
If you’re planning a trip to the Red Sea and hoping to see dolphins, several liveaboard trips are available that focus specifically on dolphin encounters. These trips typically visit the areas of Sha’ab Sataya, Samadi Reef, and Sha’ab El Erg, where the chances of seeing dolphins are the highest.
In conclusion, the Red Sea is home to several species of dolphins, each with unique habitats and characteristics. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a first-timer, encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unforgettable experience. So, grab your gear and head out to the Red Sea to witness the magic of dolphins in person!