Marine Mammal Identification: Manatee, Dolphins, Whales

Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico

There are over 20 species of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. Arguably, the most recognizable is the West Indian Manatee. This species occurs along the northern Gulf of Mexico but is not common. Its large, rounded tail, paddle-like front flippers, and blunt snout are unmistakable.

West Indian Manatee

Most Common Near-Shore Species

There are nine species of Dolphins that have been recorded from the Gulf of Mexico. There are three species of Dolphins that commonly occur in nearshore waters, the bottlenose dolphin, the Atlantic spotted dolphin and Risso’s dolphin. Without question, the most common marine mammal in the inshore Gulf of Mexico is the bottlenose dolphin. This dolphin is common in coastal waters in estuaries, bays, and along beaches.

Most Common Offshore Dolphin Species

Other Dolphin Species That Might be Encountered Offshore

Most Common Offshore Whale Species

The most common whale species in the Gulf of Mexico is the sperm whale.

Cuvier’s beaked whale

Bryde’s whale is regularly found in the northern Gulf of Mexico around the Desoto Canyon. Rice’s whale has only recently been identified in the Gulf and is very similar to Bryde’s whale.

Other Species of Whales That Might be Encountered