7 Difference between Dolphin and Whale (With Table)

Dolphins and whales are mammals that belong to the order Cetacea. Both are marine animals that reside in the oceans.

They share many characteristics to an extent that some scientists argue that dolphins are types of whales.

However, the two are different from each other physiologically, intelligently, and the kind of waters where they live in.

So, what is the main difference between dolphin and whale? Dolphin is smaller in body size while the whale is comparatively larger and more comfortable in a wide range of water temperatures.

To know more about the differences between dolphins and whales continue reading this article. You will also get to learn more about the similarities.

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Difference between Dolphin and Whale

Comparison Table (Dolphin vs. Whale)

Basic TermsDolphinWhale
SizeThey are smaller in body size.They are comparatively large in body size.
Teeth structureTheir teeth are conical in shape.Their teeth are baleen in shape.
Social with humansThey are friendly to humans.They are social with other whales and live in groups but are not friendly to humans.
SoundsThey use echolocation by making sounds from their nasal passages.They make high-pitch groans and whistles while communicating.
What they feed onThey feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans.They feed on planktons and krill.
HabitatThey live in shallow waters near the coast.They live in deeper waters.
Water temperaturesIt cannot live in a wide range of water temperatures.It can live in a wide range of water temperatures.

What is a Dolphin?

Dolphin is a mammal that lives in water. It is smaller in body size as compared to whales although they share most characteristics.

Their teeth are conical and they are very friendly to humans hence they are social animals. They move to the surface of the water in order for them to breathe in air through their blowhole. Dolphins only have one blowhole.

Dolphins use echolocation by making sounds from their nasal passages. Through these sounds, they are able to communicate to their fellow dolphins in case there is danger.

They come closer to the show for feeding. They mainly feed on small fish, crustaceans, and squid. They get their prey by chasing to the shallow waters or driving them to muddy banks.

They only mingle during mating season. It mostly occurs during warmer seasons. The gestation period is between 10 to 13 months.

Most of them give birth to one calf but some species give birth to two calves. They nurse their calves for about one year before they allow them to be on their own.

What is a Whale?

Whales are the largest mammals and they mostly inhabit water sources. They are capable of living in a wide range of water temperatures.

Most whales have baleen in their mouths and this makes them feed on small animals. They mostly feed on planktons and krill.

However, some whale species have teeth but they are shaped differently. Beaked whales have fang-shaped teeth in the lower parts of their mouth.

Narwhal has a tusk that it uses as a tooth. Toothed whales eat fish and other sea creatures unlike those that have baleen which only feeds on planktons and krill.

Male and female whales mingle during mating seasons. Most mating occurs during warmer seasons but it varies with species.

The gestation period for whales is between 9 to 17 months. Most whales give birth to one calf. They nurse the calf for a period of like one month before releasing them to be on their own.

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Main Differences between Dolphin and Whale

  1. Dolphin is smaller while the whale is comparatively larger in body size.
  2. Dolphin has conical shaped teeth while most whales have baleen in their mouth.
  3. Dolphins feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans while whales feed on planktons and krill.
  4. Dolphin lives in shallow waters near the coast while whales live in deeper waters.
  5. Dolphins cannot live in a wide range of water temperatures while whales are capable of living in a wide range of water temperatures.

Similarities between Dolphin and Whale

  1. They are both mammals.
  2. Both give birth to live offspring.
  3. Both have fins.
  4. Both have streamlined bodies.
  5. They both breathe through the lungs.
  6. They both produce sounds to communicate with others.

Conclusion

Dolphins and whales have a lot in common. They are both mammals and this makes them have many features in common such as being warm-blooded animals, giving birth to live offspring, and breathing through the lungs.

However, the two creatures are different in that dolphins appear to be smaller in body size while whales are comparatively larger in body size.

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