Dolphin vs. Porpoise — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 20, 2023
Dolphins are marine mammals known for their intelligence, social behavior, and streamlined bodies. Porpoises are also marine mammals but are generally smaller, have a more robust build, and are less social than dolphins.
Difference Between Dolphin and Porpoise
Table of Contents
Dolphins are a widely recognized species of marine mammals that belong to the family Delphinidae. They are highly intelligent and social creatures that often live in large pods. Porpoises, in contrast, belong to the family Phocoenidae and are generally not as social or as playful as dolphins.
Dolphins have elongated beaks, also known as rostrums, and cone-shaped teeth. They are often seen leaping out of the water and engaging in various playful activities. Porpoises have a more rounded face, with a shorter beak and spade-shaped teeth, and they are more likely to avoid boats and human interaction.
Dolphins are frequently spotted in warm and tropical seas and are well known for their acrobatic displays and complex vocalizations. Porpoises prefer colder waters and are more elusive, generally avoiding human contact and not known for elaborate displays of jumping or vocalization.
Dolphins are often involved in human-related activities like shows, marine parks, and even therapy programs, thanks to their intelligence and trainability. Porpoises are more rarely seen in these settings due to their shyer nature and lesser inclination toward human interaction.
Compare with Definitions
A marine mammal known for its high intelligence.
The dolphin performed complex tricks during the show.
A marine mammal with a robust body and a short beak.
The porpoise was spotted near the colder northern waters.
An aquatic creature recognized for its acrobatic abilities.
The dolphin leapt out of the water in a spectacular display.
A species with spade-shaped teeth.
Unlike dolphins, porpoises have spade-shaped teeth.
A warm-water species often involved in human-related activities.
The dolphin therapy program has shown positive results.
A less social relative of the dolphin.
Porpoises are generally shy and keep a distance from boats.
A social animal that often lives in large pods.
We saw a pod of dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
A mammal known for its more subdued behavior.
You won't see a porpoise performing acrobatic tricks like a dolphin.
A species with a streamlined body and a long beak.
The dolphin's streamlined body allows it to swim fast.
Porpoises are a group of fully aquatic marine mammals, similar in appearance to a dolphin, all of which are classified under the family Phocoenidae, parvorder Odontoceti (toothed whales). They are, however, more closely related to narwhals and belugas than to the true dolphins.
Dolphin is the common name of aquatic mammals within the infraorder Cetacea. The term dolphin usually refers to the extant families Delphinidae (the oceanic dolphins), Platanistidae (the Indian river dolphins), named Iniidae (the New World river dolphins), and Pontoporiidae (the brackish dolphins), and the extinct Lipotidae (baiji or Chinese river dolphin).
Any of various marine toothed whales of the genus Phocoena and related genera, characteristically having a blunt snout and a triangular dorsal fin. Porpoises are placed either in their own family, Phocoenidae, or with the dolphins in the family Delphinidae.
Any of various marine toothed whales of the family Delphinidae, having a beaklike snout, a curved dorsal fin, and a slender streamlined body.
Any of several related aquatic mammals, such as the dolphins.
Any of several toothed whales inhabiting rivers and estuaries in South America and South Asia, having a long narrow beak, broad flippers, a flexible neck, and usually a reduced dorsal fin. A species native to the Yangtze River is thought to be extinct. Also called river dolphin.
A small cetacean of the family Phocoenidae, related to dolphins and whales.
Any small dolphin.
See pompano dolphinfish.
(intransitive) Said of an air-breathing aquatic animal such as a porpoise or penguin: To repeatedly jump out of the water to take a breath and dive back in a continuous motion.
A buoy, pile, or group of piles used for mooring boats.
(intransitive) Said of an aircraft: to make a series of plunges when taking off or landing; or of a watercraft: to successively plunge up and down in the water.
A group of piles used as a fender, as at a dock or around a bridge pier.
Any small cetacean of the genus Phocæna, especially Phocæna communis, or Phocæna phocæna, of Europe, and the closely allied American species (Phocæna Americana). The color is dusky or blackish above, paler beneath. They are closely allied to the dolphins, but have a shorter snout. Called also harbor porpoise, herring hag, puffing pig, and snuffer.
A carnivorous aquatic mammal in one of several families of order Cetacea, famed for its intelligence and occasional willingness to approach humans.
A true dolphin (Delphinus); - often so called by sailors.
Tursiops truncatus, (Atlantic bottlenose dolphin) the most well-known species.
Any of several small gregarious cetacean mammals having a blunt snout and many teeth
A fish, the mahi-mahi or dorado, Coryphaena hippurus, with a dorsal fin that runs the length of the body, also known for iridescent coloration.
An elusive marine creature that prefers colder waters.
Porpoises are more commonly found in the colder regions.
(heraldry) A depiction of a fish, with a broad indented fin, usually embowed.
The dauphin, eldest son of the kings of France.
(history) A mass of iron or lead hung from the yardarm, in readiness to be dropped through the deck and the hull of an enemy's vessel to sink it.
(nautical) A kind of wreath or strap of plaited cordage.
(nautical) A spar or buoy held by an anchor and furnished with a ring to which ships may fasten their cables.
(nautical) A mooring post on a wharf or beach.
(nautical) A permanent fender designed to protect a heavy boat or coastal structure from the impact of large floating objects such as ice or floating logs.
One of the handles above the trunnions by which a gun was lifted.
(nautical) A man-made semi submerged maritime structure, usually installed to provide a fixed structure for temporary mooring, to prevent ships from drifting to shallow water or to serve as base for navigational aids.
A cetacean of the genus Delphinus and allied genera (esp. Delphinus delphis); the true dolphin.
The Coryphæna hippuris, a fish of about five feet in length, celebrated for its surprising changes of color when dying. It is the fish commonly known as the dolphin. The term is also applied to the related Coryphaena equisetis. Called also dolphinfish and (especially in Hawaii) mahimahi. See also dolphinfish and Coryphænoid.
A mass of iron or lead hung from the yardarm, in readiness to be dropped on the deck of an enemy's vessel.
A kind of wreath or strap of plaited cordage.
In old ordnance, one of the handles above the trunnions by which a cannon was lifted.
Large slender food and game fish widely distributed in warm seas (especially around Hawaii)
Any of various small toothed whales with a beaklike snout; larger than porpoises
Do Dolphins and Porpoises live in the same habitats?
Generally, no. Dolphins prefer warmer waters, while porpoises are more commonly found in colder regions.
What distinguishes a Dolphin's appearance from a Porpoise?
Dolphins have a streamlined body and a longer beak, while porpoises have a more rounded face and shorter beak.
What is a Porpoise?
A porpoise is a marine mammal that is generally less social and has a more robust body than a dolphin.
Are Dolphins and Porpoises related?
Yes, they are both marine mammals but belong to different families.
Are Dolphins bigger than Porpoises?
Generally, yes. Dolphins are usually larger and have a more streamlined body.
Are Porpoises social like Dolphins?
No, porpoises are generally less social and more elusive than dolphins.
Do both Dolphins and Porpoises make sounds?
Yes, but dolphins are more known for their complex vocalizations.
What is a Dolphin?
A dolphin is a highly intelligent and social marine mammal.
Can Dolphins and Porpoises be trained?
Dolphins are more frequently trained due to their intelligence; porpoises are less commonly trained.
Can you ride a Dolphin?
While it's possible, it is a subject of ethical debate.
Can you ride a Porpoise?
It's highly unlikely, given their more elusive and less social nature.
Are Dolphins more common in marine parks than Porpoises?
Yes, dolphins are more commonly seen in shows and marine parks.
What do Dolphins eat?
Dolphins eat a variety of fish and squid.
Do Porpoises engage in acrobatics like Dolphins?
No, porpoises are generally not known for acrobatic displays.
What do Porpoises eat?
Porpoises primarily eat fish.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.