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There are 11 known species of dolphins (cestaceans) sharing the spectacular coastline of the Sultanate of Oman.

Dolphin Watching Video

 

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

bottlenosedolphin

Other Names: Grey porpoise, Black porpoise, Cowfish

Field ID: Robust body, Round melon, Single blowhole, Pointed flippers, Dark cape (area of the back around the dorsal fin), Lighter under-side (belly), Fast active swimmer, Often bow-rides.

Size: Bottlenose dolphins can range from 1.9 to 4 metres in length (6.25 - 13 ft). New-borns can also vary quite a lot in length, they can be anything between 85cm and 1.3 metres (34in - 4.25 ft). Adults can weigh between 150 and 650 kg (330 - 1435 lb) and new-borns between 15 and 30 kg (35 - 65 lb).

Diet: Fish, Krill and/or other crustaceans, Squid

Behaviour: Bottlenose dolphins are very active dolphins and are often seen bow-riding, surfing, lobtailing and breaching. They can leap several metres out of the water. They can also sometimes be seen playing 'games' with things such as seaweed, coral or other animals. Bottlenoses, like many other whales and dolphins, are social animals and, although they can be found on their own, they tend to live in family groups called 'schools'. These can contain anything from just two or three dolphins to 500! Within these schools, they tend to spend time with similar individuals - females and young calves are often found together, older calves spend time with each other and males form their own groups. Sometimes families may team up with other families, looking after one another and providing support in times of hardship and danger.

Description: Bottlenose dolphins vary greatly in size. The easiest way of recognising a bottlenose is to look out for an obvious dark and curved-back dorsal fin on a lively grey dolphin! The shape of their dorsal fin, along with nicks, scratches and other markings on their skin, are what researchers use to identify individual bottlenose dolphins.
 

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

commondolphin

Description: Common dolphins are easily recognised by the hourglass pattern and tan or yellowish patch on each side, although they can sometimes be confused with striped dolphins. They have a dark cape ranging from black to brown with a v-shape under the dorsal fin. They also have a white underside with occasional yellow streaks and a white tail stock. Their flukes are dark on both sides, and their dorsal fins range from curved to triangular and can be black, greyish white or somewhere in-between. Only two distinct forms are recognised; the long-beaked and short-beaked.

Other Names: Saddleback dolphin, White-bellied porpoise, Criss-cross dolphin, Hourglass dolphin, Cape dolphin

Field ID: Streamlined body, long slender beak, single blowhole, pointed flippers, hourglass pattern on sides, dark flippers, tail and fin, dark cape (area of the back around the dorsal fin), fast active swimmer.

Size: When they are born, common dolphins are about 80cm long (32in). They grow to between 1.7 and 2.4 metres (5ft 9in - 8ft) in length. Adults weigh between 70 and 110 kg (155 - 245lb).

Diet: Fish, Squid

Behaviour: Common dolphins are often found in large, socially active groups. Their school size depends upon the time of day and season. They are fast swimmers and enjoy acrobatics - lobtailing, flipper slaps and breaching. They are highly vocal and can be heard above the surface. They do short dives of 10 seconds to 2 minutes, although dives of 8 minutes have been recorded. They may be seen with yellowfin tuna.
 

False Killer Whale (Pseudorca crassidens)

falsekillerwhale

Description: False killer whales, like orcas, are actually dolphins, not whales. They are generally smaller than pilot whales and orcas (killer whales) but larger than other 'dolphins'. They have a dark body colour with a long, slender head that tapers to a rounded beak. The fins on their backs are large with either a pointed or rounded tip. They quite often have scars on parts of their bodies. Their flukes are small in relation to the rest of their bodies. Their flippers are different to many other whales in that they have a unique 'elbow', like that of the long-finned pilot whale.

Other Names: False pilot whale, Pseudorca

Field ID: Streamlined body, small head, rounded beak, elbow on flippers, dark coloration, tall dorsal fin, fast & active swimmer, prefers deep water.

Size: When they are born false killer whales are 1.6 to 1.9 metres (5ft 3in - 6ft 3in) long. When they are fully grown they can measure between 4.3 and 6 metres (14ft - 19ft 9in). At birth, false killer whales weigh 80kg (175 lb) and when they are mature they weigh between 1.1 and 2.2 tonnes.

Diet: Fish, squid and other marine mammals.

Behaviour: False killer whales are very social animals, found in groups of between 10 and 50. They are even sometimes found in pods of several hundred at social gatherings! They are fast, active swimmers and often breach and lobtail. When they are feeding they make frequent stops and sharp turns. False killer whales often lift their heads and much of their bodies out of the water when they surface, sometimes with their mouths open displaying rows of teeth. They are quite nosy and approach boats to investigate, bow-ride or wake-ride.
 

Rough-Toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis)

rough toothed dolphin

Description: Rough-toothed dolphins get their name from the vertical ridges or wrinkles found on their teeth. However, as these are impossible to see, other features must be relied on when identifying them. They can be mistaken for bottlenoses but unlike other dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins do not have prominent beaks with a crease between their beak and forehead. Their long narrow beak blends smoothly into the forehead and some people have described them as looking like reptiles. Their skin is dark grey or blue-grey, sometimes with a hint of purple. The area around their mouths is often white or pinkish white especially on the underside where the whiteness covers the throat too. They have large eyes which are surrounded by a dark patch of skin. Rough-toothed dolphins have quite slim bodies, especially behind the dorsal fin which has a wide base and curves backwards. Their flippers are large and set quite far back on their body. The flukes have pointed tips and a notch in the middle. Rough-toothed dolphins often have spots or blotches on their lower body and they are often scarred too. They have between 38 and 52 teeth in the upper jaw and between 38 and 56 in the lower jaw. Different populations may look slightly different to each other, especially the animals living in the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific population.

Other Names: Slopehead

Field ID: Streamlined body, Narrow head, Smoothly sloping forehead, no teeth visible, White "lips", Blue-grey skin colour, Pale blotches, Dark cape (area of the back around the dorsal fin), White underside, Tall dorsal fin, Black patch around eye, Fast active swimmer, May float motionless at the surface, Normally in small groups, Long, slender beak.

Size: Male rough-toothed dolphins are between 2.2 and 2.6 metres (7ft-8ft 6in) in length. The females are between 2.3 and 2.4 metres (7ft 6in and 8 ft). When they are born, the calves are about 1m (39in) long.

Diet: Fish, Squid, Octopus.

Behaviour: Rough-toothed dolphins are fast swimmers and often swim just under the surface with the dorsal fin and part of the back showing above the water. Sometimes they swim with only their head showing above the water - this is called porpoising. They can stay under water for up to 15 minutes. They can be seen to bow ride, though not as often as other dolphins. They do not tend to do full breaches. Sometimes they are seen resting on the surface of the water (logging). Rough-toothed dolphins live in groups of about 10-20, though they have been seen in groups numbering up to 50 individuals, and, occasionally, in groups of several hundred. They are sometimes seen with bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, spinner dolphins and spotted dolphins.
 

Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides)

finlessporpoise

Description: Finless porpoises are one of the smallest cetaceans. They are pale grey-blue in colour with a small mouth that curves slightly upwards and a slight depression behind the blowhole. They are the only porpoises to have a bulbous melon. Instead of a fin, they have a ridge along their backs which runs from above the flippers to the beginning of their tail stock. This ridge is covered in circular wart-like tubercles or bumps.

Other Names: Black porpoise, Jiangzhu

Field ID: Streamlined body, Small size, Bulbous melon , No prominent beak, White chin, Blue-grey skin colour, Lighter under-side (belly), Dorsal ridge instead of fin, Normally in small groups or alone.

Size: When they are born, finless porpoises are between 60 and 90cm (24 - 35in) long. They then grow to an adult size which is only a little bit longer: between 1.2 and 1.9 metres (4ft - 6ft 3in) in length. Newborn finless porpoises weigh about 7kg (15lb), and adults weigh between 30 to 45 kg (65 - 100lb).

Diet: Fish, Krill and/or other crustaceans, Squid

Behaviour: Finless porpoises are quite active animals, usually swimming just beneath the surface with sudden, darting movements. They cause little disturbance when they rise to the surface, and they tend to roll onto their sides when doing so. They have been known to spyhop, but are rarely seen breaching.
 

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis)

indopacifichumpbackwhale

Description: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins can vary in colour from yellow to pink to almost white to medium grey; their bellies are usually the lightest areas. They also have a broad-based dorsal fin that slopes backwards. Those found in the west have a fatty hump which the dorsal fin sits on, those in the east don't have a hump and they can sometimes get confused with bottlenose dolphins.

Other Names: Speckled dolphin

Field ID: Robust body, Slightly rounded melon, Lighter under-side (belly), Elongated hump , Tail flukes raised when diving, Difficult to approach.

Size: Adult grow to about 2 - 2.8m, new-born are about 1m in length. Adults weigh about 150 - 200kg, new-borns in the region of 25kg.

Diet: Fish

Behaviour: These dolphins are slow swimming animals that avoid boats if possible and rarely bow-ride. They display many aerial behaviours; often breaching, lob tailing and spyhops. They even lie on their sides and wave their flippers! Although wary of boats, they do associate readily with other species, especially bottlenose dolphins.
 

Orca (Orcinus orca)

orca image

Description: Killer whales (orcas) are large, stocky, and heavy! Their jet black, white and grey markings, and the males' very tall dorsal fin, make them hard to muddle up with other species. In fact, a male's dorsal fin can be as tall as a man, up to 1.8m (6ft) high! It is the tallest dorsal fin in the animal kingdom. Females have a much smaller fin, theirs is only about half the size and is more curved. Young calves can be a little trickier to identify as their saddle-patch (the patch behind the dorsal fin) can be quite dark and therefore blend into the rest of their bodies; and their light patches (behind the eyes and on the belly) can look a bit pink or rusty coloured. Researchers use the dorsal fins to identify individual orcas. Saddle-patches are also unique to individual whales, no two orcas have exactly the same saddle-patch shape and pattern. An orca has between 20 and 26 large sharp teeth in both upper and lower jaws; these curve backwards towards the throat and interlock when the whale closes its mouth. They are perfectly designed for catching and biting their food.

Other Names: Killer Whale, Grampus

Field ID: Robust body, Single blowhole, Large paddle-like flippers, Black and white in colour, White chin, Grey saddle-patch, Tall dorsal fin, White patch behind eyes, Fast active swimmer.

Size: Orcas are the largest of all the members of the dolphin family. Adults can range from approximately 5.5 to 9.8 metres (18 - 32.25 ft). Males are larger then females, they average 7 - 8 metres, females around 6 metres . New-borns are usually 2.1 to 2.5 metres (7 - 8.25 ft) long. Adults weigh anything from 2.6 to tonnes (males are generally heavier then females) and new-borns are approximately 180 kg (395lb)

Diet: Fish, Squid, Seabirds, Turtles, Sealions, Seals, Other cetaceans

Behaviour: There are three kinds of orcas (residents, transients and offshores), although orcas from other parts of the world don’t always fit neatly into one of these catagories. Residents tend to form large family groups or pods (usually 5-25 animals). They normally hunt using echolocation. Residents also 'talk' to one another more often than other orcas. They are the most studied of all the orcas, because they have predictable eating habits and are therefore relatively easy for scientists to find and follow. The orcas of WDCS' adoption scheme are residents. Transients tend to form smaller family groups or pods (usually 1-7 animals). They tend to roam over a much wider area and feed on seals, sealions, dolphins and other mammals, as well as seabirds and a variety of other wildlife. They do not hunt using echolocation, probably because their prey have good hearing and would be able to hear the orcas' clicking sounds. Instead they swim quietly, listening to sounds being made by other animals in the water. Transients 'talk' to one another less often then resident orcas and have slightly more pointed dorsal fins. Offshores were only identified for the first time in the early 1990s. They appear to travel in large groups of 25 or more. Most of their time is spent in the open sea, much further away from shore then either residents or transients. They probably eat mainly fish and make lots of noise, communicating with each other regularly. Orcas can be very acrobatic. They are known to breach, lobtail, flipper-slap and spy-hop.
 

Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

rissosdolphin

Description: Risso's dolphins are quite easy to identify, especially when they get older. This is because they become scarred and battered due to being scratched by the teeth of other Risso's dolphins. They only have teeth in the front of their lower jaw and these are used when playing or fighting. When born they are grey all over, and then become chocolate-brown and eventually pale grey with a pale underside. Their flippers and tail remain darker though, and the flukes are broad with pointed tips. They have a very tall dorsal fin which can be up to 50cm in length, the tip of which may be curved or pointed. Instead of a beak, it has a blunt head with bulging forehead that slopes steeply to the mouth which curves upwards.

Other Names: Grey dolphin, White-head grampus, Grey grampus

Field ID: Robust body, abrupt forehead, single blowhole, grey in colour, lighter under-side (belly), tall dorsal fin, white scratches and scars.

Size: Adults range from about 2.6 to 3.8m (8.5 to 12.5ft), and new-borns from 1.3 to 1.7m (4.25 to 5.75ft). Adults weigh 300 - 500kg

Diet: Squid and fish

Behaviour: Risso's do not often 'bow- ride' in front of boats, but may swim beside or in the bubbly wake that a boat leaves. They generally swim in groups of between 3 and 50 animals. These groups spread out in a long line when hunting for food. Young animals are energetic, and may breach (lift themselves out of the water), slap their flippers against the surface of the sea, ‘spyhop’ (lift their head above the surface to have a look around), and surf in the waves.
 

Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris)

spinnerdolphin

Description: There are a number of different varieties of Spinner dolphins, each with slightly different body shapes, colours and sizes. They all have long, slender beaks and tall upright dorsal fins. They have a small notch in their flukes. Most of them have three tones of colour, with a dark top through to a light belly. Oman Spinner dolphin have three very distinct colour patches and the underside is almost completely white. They all have long, pointed flippers and gently sloping foreheads with a crease where it joins the beak.

Other Names: Longsnout, Long-beaked dolphin, Rollover

Field ID: Streamlined body, Long, slender beak, Long flippers with a sharply pointed tip, Black stripe from eye to flipper, Dark upper-side (top), Lighter under-side (belly), Tall dorsal fin, Fast active swimmer, Highly acrobatic, Curious around boats, Often bow-rides, Frequently seen in very large groups.

Size: Newborn long-snouted spinner dolphins are 70-85cm long. Adults can be anywhere between 1.3 - 2.1 metres long. Animals from the eastern Pacific population tend to be the largest and those from the Gulf of Thailand are the smallest. Adult long-snouted spinner dolphins weigh between 45 and 75kg.

Diet: Fish, Krill and/or other crustaceans, Squid, Octopus

Behaviour: Spinner dolphins are extremely acrobatic and are famous for leaping out of the water and spinning in mid-air. Along with the short-snouted spinner dolphins, they are the only species of dolphin known to "spin". They throw themselves up to 3m (9ft 9in) into the air and twist their bodies, spinning round longitudinally up to 7 times in a single leap! They also breach in the more normal manner. They live in large groups and are sometimes seen with pantropical spotted dolphins, yellowfin tuna and seabirds. Short-snouted spinner dolphins were once considered to be a variation of the long-snouted spinner dolphins. They were officially classified as a separate species in 1981.
 

Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata)

spotteddolphin

Description: There are two different forms of pantropical spotted dolphins; coastal and offshore. The coastal dolphins are larger with thicker beaks and more spots. You would think that spotted dolphins would be easy to identify, but sometimes they don't have many spots. When they are born they have no spots, so it is easy to get them muddled up with other dolphins such as the bottlenose. Pantropical spotted dolphins are very similar to Atlantic spotted dolphins. They have a dark grey cape on the top of their body, then a lighter grey area along the middle of the body and a pale grey underside. They have light spots on their dark skin and dark spots on their light skin. Their beaks are long and thin with a dark patch on top which goes back in a stripe around the eye. They also have a dark stripe going from under their mouth to their flippers which are dark too. Pantropical spotted dolphins have small flippers with pointed tips, sickle-shaped dorsal fins and a notch in their flukes which also have pointed tips. They have 70-96 teeth in their upper jaw and 68-94 in their lower jaw.

Other Names: White-spotted dolphin, Bridled dolphin, Spotter, Spotted porpoise, Slender-beaked dolphin

Field ID: Long, slender beak; no teeth visible; white "lips"; flippers, flukes and fin are dark; dark cape (area of the back around the dorsal fin); lighter under-side (belly); sickle-shaped dorsal fin; tall dorsal fin; black patch around eye; fast active swimmer; often bow-rides; frequently seen in very large groups.

Size: Adult pantropical spotted dolphins are between 1.7 and 2.4 metres (5ft 9in - 8ft) long. They are about 80 - 90cm (32-35in) at birth. The birth weight of pantropical spotted dolphins is not known, but adults weigh between 90 and 115kg (200-255lb).

Diet: Fish, squid and sometimes crustaceans

Behaviour: Pantropical spotted dolphins are very fast swimmers and enjoy leaping out of the water. They will often bow-ride, breach and lob-tail. They live in large groups of up to 1000 individuals, though the coastal populations are more likely to be seen in smaller groups. Some pantropical spotted dolphins develop so many spots that the background colour can not be seen. The top of their bodies becomes very pale with all the spots and they are nicknamed "Silverbacks".
 

Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

stripeddolphin

Description: The striped dolphin is fairly easy to identify from the distinctive strips on its sides and the pink undersides of some. One of its distinctive features is the pale grey, finger-shaped marking below the dorsal fin. The other unique feature is a black line that stretches from beak, around the eye patch to the underside of the rear flank. These features are easily seem when they race along with flying leaps. The striped dolphin is very streamlined with a long beak and large dorsal fin.

Other Names: Whitebelly, Euphrosyne dolphin, Blue-white dolphin, Meyen's dolphin, Gray's dolphin, Streaker porpoise

Field ID: Streamlined body; long slender beak; black stripe from eye to flipper; pale finger marking below fin; white or pink underside; fast active swimmer; often bow-rides; dark flippers, tail and fin.

Size: Males are 1.9 - 2.6m, females 1.9 -2.1m, and new-borns about 1m (39in) Adults range from 90 to 150kg.

Diet: Fish, squid and crustaceans

Behaviour: They are very agile and highly active, often spotted tail-spinning and somersaulting as well as breaching to spectacular heights (7m.). They bow-ride as well but, strangely, it seems mainly in the Atlantic Ocean, there are far fewer reports of this in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They form large social groups of between 10 - 500 but can be found in schools of up to 3000! When swimming in such large groups, approximately one-third of the members can be seen above the surface at any one time.
 

Where and When to Watch? Early mornings and evenings are usually the best times to look for cetaceans, as the sea is often calmer and the light better. They can be found any distance offshore, the majority of sightings so far being close to land. Recently, a pod of sperm whales, numbering over 24 individuals, including young, was sighted in deepwater some distance off Muscat.

Dolphins are easier to find than the bigger whales as they tend to swim in larger groups and surface more frequently. Splashes made by performing dolphins are often the first thing you will see. Some, such as the commonly encountered spinner dolphin, leap over 3 m into the air, before slapping back down onto the water's surface. Fleets of fishing boats may also betray the presence of dolphins as fishermen are known to follow the dolphins in search of tuna. Similarly, flocking seabirds may be an indication of dolphins or whales feeding nearby. You will certainly notice a large whale jumping out of the water, or breaching, as if in joyful mood. The thunderous splash made as it re-enters the sea cannot only be seen but may also be heard, several kilometres away.

There is no single location at which you are most likely to see cetaceans in Oman. Patient observers anywhere at sea may eventually be rewarded. However, as an initial guide, many are seen in Dhofar and around its offshore islands, which seems to be the area of greatest potential for whale -watching. The waters immediately off Muscat, however, are where the majority of whales have been seen. This is probably more a reflection of the number of whale enthusiasts in the area than the abundance of whales, but the fact remains that here too there are unique opportunities for hours of pleasurable and exciting whale -watching. Other relatively unexplored areas where whales are to be found - and who is to say how many and of which species - are the seas off the easternmost point of Arabia at the Ra's al Hadd headland, the rich and intriguing waters around Masirah Island, and the fascinating Musandam region in the extreme north.

How to identify dolphins fish? Despite the fact that they live in the ocean, dolphins are warm-blooded mammals that breathe and suckle their young.

What is the difference between dolphins and whales? There is a difference between what we call a whale and what biologically is a whale. We tend to use whale for larger mammals living in the sea. Whales have baleen whereas dolphins have teeth. Killer whales for instance therefore are technically dolphins.

What do they eat? Dolphins feed on most kinds of fish, including mullet, whiting, snapper, tuna, bream and invertebrates such as squid.

How do they sleep? Dolphins sleep on the surface with only the blow hole exposed. Dolphins are ‘conscious’ breathers, which means that they have to be awake or semi-conscious to breathe, otherwise they would drown. They doze for a few minutes at a time, and their blow hole periodically opens and closes by reflex action. They sleep in a semi-conscious state, resting one side of the brain for a short time then swapping over. This technique also allows them to be aware of any dangers.

How deep can dolphins dive? Bottlenose dolphins can dive to depths of 21 metres and even to 30 metres. Risso’s dolphins can dive to over 1000 metres.

Why do they jump? There are four probable reasons that dolphins jump: either to play, for communication with other dolphins, to get rid of parasites, or to get a better view over the water.

Do they migrate? Some species of dolphins migrate. Some species travel hundreds of kilometres in circular territory, probably for food.

What is their gestation period? Gestation lasts for 10 to 12 months.

How long do calves stay with their mothers? Calves stay with their mothers up to five years or longer. Mothers are very protective and keep the calf at their side at all times during this period.

What do their sounds mean? Dolphins use sound (ie sonar or echo-location) to find objects and hunt for fish. These sounds are of high frequency and send out at a rate of several hundred per second. The sounds bounce off objects in the water and are picked up by special tissue in the lower jaw of the dolphin which conducts the echo through to the inner ear. This allows dolphins to identify objects without having to touch them. Dolphins also sometimes use their sonar to stun fish. They also use sound to communicate with one another.

How long can dolphins stay under water? For periods of up to 1 hour, although five minutes is usually the average.

Can we see dolphins even when the sea is rough? No, we cannot since dolphins usually avoid the surface when the sea is rough.

Do dolphins look after their sick? They are known for doing so, although this behaviour has rarely been observed in the wild. Dolphins stay underneath and at the sides of the sick and by doing so keep them close to the surface so that they can breathe. However, they do give up after some time. Dolphins have also been observed swimming away from another dolphin entangled in a net.

How intelligent are dolphins? Since no one has come up with a method to successfully rate the intelligence of a human being, measuring the intelligence of other species has proven difficult if not impossible. The evaluation of dolphins’ intelligence is especially difficult, because they are adjusted to an entirely different medium, ie water. However, we can say that dolphins are fast learners and are able to generalise and learn sign language.

Are whales local or migratory? Most whales are migratory and travel to the poles in the summer and back to warm temperate waters in winter. Some populations are resident though.

Are whales and dolphins happy in captivity? No, not at all. In captivity, the average age for dolphins is 6 years. They tend to develop disturbed behavioural patterns too. Some countries, for example Britain have given up keeping dolphins in zoos.

Can you feed dolphins and whales? No, you should not. Feeding them will change their food behaviour and will have a detrimental effect on the marine life in general. If you feed dolphins or whales, you interrupt the natural food chain.

How long is the gestation period for whales? It is between 10 to 13 months. Whales give birth to a calf every 2 to 3 years.

How long is their lactation period? The calf is fed for 3 to 9 months.

How many calves do whales have? Whales gives birth to one calf at a time.

How long do whales stay underwater? They mostly stay underwater for 3 to 8 minutes. However, longer periods of up to 30 minutes have been recorded.

Can whales and dolphins communicate across species? They understand basic elements of other dolphin or whale species behaviour, some to the extent that they interbreed like rough toothed and bottlenose dolphins.

Are whales and dolphins aggressive and dangerous? Most dolphin and whale species are peaceful and rather shy. So far humans have proven to be of greater danger to whales and dolphins than the other way round. However, some species like killer whales and pygmy killer whales can become aggressive. They are much less aggressive than their names imply though. If you go diving with whales, the danger is mostly because of their size. They might harm you without intending to do so.

Why do whales strand? There are different theories on this issue. The most recent evidence suggests that whales strand if their hearing is impaired by loud noise which can be caused by the Navy’s sonar systems for instance.

Why are killer whales called killer whales? They are called killer whales due to the fact that they feed largely on warm blooded prey. They hunt even whales occasionally, therefore the name "killer (of) whales".

Why are sperm whales called sperm whales? Sperm whales were hunted for spermacetes, a substance found in their heads which was used to the production of perfumes, candles and ointments.

How well do whales and dolphins hear and see under water? Whales and dolphins hear very well underwater, though not in air. A human being’s hearing ranges from 40 Hz to 20 kHz. Dolphins use very high sounds for echolocation, so they can hear sounds as high as 150 kHz. Low sounds travel very far underwater, so whales can hear up to 20 Hz. Their sight, however, is not very good, as it is not very important underwater. In deeper waters there is darkness. Dolphins and whales, therefore, navigate by their hearing instead of their sight.

How can we distinguish a male whale from a female? At sea it is difficult to distinguish the two. Among baleen whales, females tend to be larger than males. Toothed whales males tend to be larger. They might also have other distinguishing features such as larger melons, larger dorsal fins or distinctive teeth. Watching wild dolphins is a thrilling way to start the day and the lucky may even come across one of the many species of whales that can be found just a few kilometres from Muscat’s rugged coast. Not every trip guarantees a sighting, but you are sure to enjoy a trip out to sea and enhance your knowledge of nature’s most fascinating marine mammals with the Arabian Sea Safaris on-board cetacean specialist, who will give a brief presentation on Oman’s whales and dolphins and help you understand their behaviour, ecology and lifestyle.

Click here for details of Dolphin Watching Tours
 

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