Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is smaller than the common bottlenose dolphin, with a longer rostrum or beak, lighter blue-grey colouring and distinguishing black flecks on the lower half
of its body. However, until 1998, the two animals were considered to be the same species. The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is found in shallow water throughout the oceans that give it its name, where it feeds predominantly on bony fish. They are social, living in pods that can number over 100 individuals. Groups of between five and 15 individuals are more common, however, with the dolphins displaying strong familial bonds. This species is thought to possess a high level of intelligence, and with very few natural predators can live for more than 40 years.
Long-Beaked Common Dolphin
Known in South Africa as one of the indicator species of the annual Sardine Run, the long-beaked common dolphin favours shallow, temperate waters. It is found
in a number of different locations, including South America, California, Japan and Korea. They are smaller than the bottlenose dolphin, and easily distinguished by the unique yellow/ grey hourglass marking that separates the dark top half of their body from the white of their undersides. Sometimes, pods of long-beaked common dolphin gather together to create a super-pod, which can include thousands of individuals. They are an acrobatic species, often breaching and leaping from the water. Their diet mainly consists of small schooling fish, which is why they follow the Sardine Run shoals so closely.
Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin
The shy Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin is found in the coastal waters of southern Africa, as well as areas of Australia and southeast Asia. It prefers shallow water, and is
typically separated into two distinct types. The South African variety is known as the Plumbea-type, and is identified by a prominent hump on its back. Plumbea-type dolphins are dark grey in colour, and typically raise their beak (and sometimes even their whole head) above the water when surfacing to breathe. They live in small groups, and have been known to associate with Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, with whom they may even form mixed-species pods. Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins survive on an almost entirely fish-based diet, and are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.