Species identification

Although identifying the species of dolphins at sea can be challenging, there are few characteristics that if recognised they make the identification fast and reliable. Here we describe only the three dolphin species more likely to be encounter in the UAE coastal waters.

The main  characteristics  to focus on are:

  • – the dorsal fin
  • – the overall size
  • – the coloration

You can download our Species Identification Booklet here!



Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin

Dark grey color with falcate fin, sometimes spotted belly is visible. Robust body with a medium length beak. Approximate max length is 2.6m. Possibly a bigger species can be sighted offshore. 

Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin

Similar size of the bottlenose dolphin but easily recognisable by the characteristic bump in front of the dorsal fin. Gray color with long slender beak. Approximate max length 2.7m.

Finless porpoise

Dark grey back with no dorsal fin. Total length is approximate max 2m. It has a blowhole so it surfaces horizontally as opposite dugongs that surface with their nostris first.