Cetaceans | Cetacea

Cetacean are an order of aquatic mammals, such as dolphins and whales. Most Cetacean live in the ocean, although there are a few species of dolphins that live in rivers in Asia and South America. Cetacean have specially developed hearing and sight to work underwater, and some species of Cetacean use echolocation. Cetacean are found worldwide, but typically prefer colder waters in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Cetacean typically feed on fish and marine invertebrate, but some, such as the Killer Whale, feed on large mammals or birds, as well. Cetaceans have been hunted for their meat, oil, blubber, and to be kept in captivity to be exploited for entertainment.

What are the three groups of organisms that are considered cetaceans?

The 3 groups of organisms that are considered cetaceans are whales, dolphins and porpoises. The 3 groups are made of 89 species in total. The cetacean order is further divided into 2 groups: toothed whales (odontocetes) that includes over 73 species and baleen whales (mysticetes) that is made up of 11 species.

What do cetaceans eat?

All species of cetaceans are carnivores. A cetaceans’ diet depends on the species, but most cetaceans feed on mostly fish, and marine invertebrates. Some like the killer whale, feed on large mammals and birds like penguins or seals. Baleen whales usually eat mollusks, copepods, krill, small fish, and squid.

Where do cetaceans live?

Cetaceans can be found in all climates and all oceans of the world ranging from the coldest waters to tropical waters. Some species live only in specific areas, like the southern right whale dolphin and hourglass dolphin that only inhabit the Antarctic Ocean. Some species of whales migrate between seasonal habitats like the gray whale.

Cetaceans Guides
Browse through our curated Cetaceans Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Cetaceans. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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14”-19” | 37-48 cm
22”-29” | 56-74 cm
6.5’-8.5’ | 1.98-2.59 m
331-408 lb | 150-185 kg
25-30 years
Amazon River Dolphin
48.000
74.000
259.000
185.000
30.00
32200
3D
Amazon River Dolphin
Baiji
19800
11”-20” | 27-52 cm
13”-24” | 32-61 cm
4.5’-8.5’ | 1.37-2.59 m
287-375 lb | 130-170 kg
24-30 years
Baiji
52.000
61.000
259.000
170.000
30.00
19800
3D
Baiji
2’8”-4’2” | 81-127 cm
35”-54” | 89-138 cm
13’-20’ | 4-6.1 m
2,000-3,000 lb | 910-1,360 kg
35-50 years
Beluga Whale
127.000
138.000
610.000
1360.000
50.00
224000
3D
Beluga Whale
13’-16’ | 3.96-4.88 m
25.3’-31.8’ | 7.7-9.7 m
82’-105’ | 25-32 m
55-165 tons | 50-150 metric tons
80-90 years
Blue Whale
488.000
970.000
3200.000
150000.000
90.00
182000
3D
Blue Whale
8.9’-12.1’ | 2.7-3.7 m
14.1’-19.4’ | 4.3-5.9 m
45’-60’ | 13.7-18.3 m
75-100 tons | 68-91 metric tons
150-200 years
Bowhead Whale
370.000
590.000
1830.000
90718.000
200.00
66900
3D
Bowhead Whale
6.6’-7.9’ | 2-2.4 m
10.5’-13.1’ | 3.2-4 m
45’-55’ | 13.7-16.8 m
17-25 tons | 15-23 metric tons
50-70 years
Bryde’s Whale
240.000
400.000
1680.000
22679.000
70.00
1100
3D
Bryde’s Whale
2’1”-2’11” | 64-89 cm
33”-47” | 83-119 cm
10’-14’ | 3.1-4.3 m
300-1,400 lb | 136-625 kg
20-30 years
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
89.000
119.000
430.000
625.000
30.00
13000
3D
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
14”-20” | 36-50 cm
16”-22” | 40-55 cm
6.17’-8.5’ | 1.88-2.59 m
220-298 lb | 100-135 kg
25-40 years
Common Dolphin
50.000
55.000
259.000
135.000
40.00
7300
3D
Common Dolphin
4.3’-5.9’ | 1.3-1.8 m
6.6’-9.2’ | 2-2.8 m
26’-35’ | 7.9-10.7 m
6-10 tons | 5-9 metric tons
40-50 years
Common Minke Whale
180.000
280.000
1070.000
9072.000
50.00
2900
3D
Common Minke Whale
18”-25” | 47-63 cm
14”-18.5” | 35-47 cm
5.92’-8’ | 1.8-2.44 m
265-353 lb | 120-160 kg
15-20 years
Dall's Porpoise
63.000
47.000
244.000
160.000
20.00
4450
3D
Dall's Porpoise
17”-23” | 43-59 cm
19”-26” | 49-66 cm
6.58’-8.83’ | 2-2.69 m
463-595 lb | 210-270 kg
15-22 years
Dwarf Sperm Whale
59.000
66.000
269.000
270.000
22.00
10500
3D
Dwarf Sperm Whale
29”-38” | 75-96 cm
46”-57” | 116-146 cm
16’-20’ | 4.88-6.1 m
2,645-4,850 lb | 1,200-2,200 kg
55-63 years
False Killer Whale
96.000
146.000
610.000
2200.000
63.00
38100
3D
False Killer Whale
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
15.4’-18.4’ | 4.7-5.6 m
75’-90’ | 22.9-27.4 m
74-114 tons | 67-103 metric tons
80-100 years
Fin Whale
350.000
560.000
2740.000
103419.000
100.00
35800
3D
Fin Whale
14”-17” | 36-43 cm
21”-25” | 54-64 cm
6.25’-7.5’ | 1.91-2.29 m
66-159 lb | 30-72 kg
10-20 years
Finless Porpoise
43.000
64.000
229.000
72.000
20.00
4610
3D
Finless Porpoise
6.9’-8.5’ | 2.1-2.6 m
10.2’-11.5’ | 3.1-3.5 m
40’-50’ | 12.2-15.2 m
30-41 tons | 27-37 metric tons
55-80 years
Gray Whale
260.000
350.000
1520.000
37195.000
80.00
22300
3D
Gray Whale
14”-16” | 35-41 cm
11”-13” | 29-34 cm
5’-6’ | 1.52-1.83 m
99-198 lb | 45-90 kg
8-20 years
Harbour Porpoise
41.000
34.000
183.000
90.000
20.00
6700
3D
Harbour Porpoise
8’-9’8” | 2.44-2.97 m
12.1’-14.8’ | 3.7-4.5 m
43’-52’ | 13-16 m
27.5-33 tons | 25-30 metric tons
45-100 years
Humpback Whale
297.000
450.000
1600.000
30000.000
100.00
63200
3D
Humpback Whale
16”-19” | 42-49 cm
19”-22” | 48-56 cm
7’-8.17’ | 2.13-2.49 m
154-243 lb | 70-110 kg
18-26 years
Indus River Dolphin
49.000
56.000
249.000
110.000
26.00
4500
3D
Indus River Dolphin
14”-21” | 36-54 cm
15”-23” | 39-59 cm
5.92’-9’ | 1.8-2.74 m
198-441 lb | 90-200 kg
15-30 years
Irrawaddy Dolphin
54.000
59.000
274.000
200.000
30.00
23400
3D
Irrawaddy Dolphin
12”-20” | 30-50 cm
15”-25” | 39-63 cm
5.5’-9’ | 1.68-2.74 m
397-606 lb | 180-275 kg
20-30 years
Melon-Headed Whale
50.000
63.000
274.000
275.000
30.00
2700
3D
Melon-Headed Whale
Narwhal
505800
23”-36” | 58-92 cm
25”-39” | 63-99 cm
11.5’-18’ | 3.5-5.49 m
1,764-3,527 lb | 800-1,600 kg
35-55 years
Narwhal
92.000
99.000
549.000
1600.000
55.00
505800
3D
Narwhal
9.2’-11.1’ | 2.8-3.4 m
14.8’-18’ | 4.5-5.5 m
43’-52’ | 13.1-15.8 m
44-75 tons | 40-68 metric tons
50-70 years
North Atlantic Right Whale
340.000
550.000
1580.000
68039.000
70.00
11000
3D
North Atlantic Right Whale
11.5’-15.1’ | 3.5-4.6 m
17.1’-23’ | 5.2-7 m
49’-65’ | 14.9-19.8 m
80-100 tons | 73-91 metric tons
50-70 years
North Pacific Right Whale
460.000
700.000
1980.000
90718.000
70.00
3500
3D
North Pacific Right Whale
5’3”-7’6” | 1.60-2.29 m
5.8’-8’ | 1.76-2.45 m
23’-32’ | 7.01-9.75 m
1.5-6 tons | 1.3-5.4 metric tons
30-50 years (wild); 60-70 years (captivity)
Orca | Killer Whale
229.000
245.000
975.000
5400.000
70.00
818000
3D
Orca | Killer Whale
13”-19” | 33-49 cm
16”-23” | 40-59 cm
5.5’-8.17’ | 1.68-2.49 m
298-441 lb | 135-200 kg
35-46 years
Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
49.000
59.000
249.000
200.000
46.00
3200
3D
Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
2.7’-3.6’ | .83-1.09 m
4.3’-5.6’ | 1.3-1.7 m
16’-21’ | 4.9-6.4 m
3-4 tons | 2.7-3.6 metric tons
20-40 years
Pygmy Right Whale
109.000
170.000
640.000
3629.000
40.00
1300
3D
Pygmy Right Whale
22”-25” | 56-65 cm
22”-24” | 56-62 cm
10’-11.5’ | 3.05-3.5 m
683-992 lb | 310-450 kg
17-23 years
Pygmy Sperm Whale
65.000
62.000
350.000
450.000
23.00
6250
3D
Pygmy Sperm Whale
5.9’-8.9’ | 1.8-2.7 m
11.2’-16.1’ | 3.4-4.9 m
45’-65’ | 13.7-19.8 m
18-30 tons | 16-27 metric tons
50-75 years
Sei Whale
270.000
490.000
1980.000
27215.000
75.00
14700
3D
Sei Whale
10.5’-12.8’ | 3.2-3.9 m
17.4’-21.7’ | 5.3-6.6 m
50’-60’ | 15.2-18.3 m
47-90 tons | 43-82 metric tons
60-80 years
Southern Right Whale
390.000
660.000
1830.000
81647.000
80.00
10150
3D
Southern Right Whale
6’9”-11’ | 2.06-3.35 m
10.5’-16’ | 3.21-4.88 m
39’-62’ | 12-19 m
38.5-65 tons | 35-59 metric tons
60-70 years
Sperm Whale
335.000
488.000
1900.000
59000.000
70.00
268000
3D
Sperm Whale
13”-16” | 34-41 cm
16”-19” | 41-49 cm
6.5’-7.75’ | 1.98-2.36 m
51-174 lb | 23-79 kg
20-25 years
Spinner Dolphin
41.000
49.000
236.000
79.000
25.00
9350
3D
Spinner Dolphin
16”-18” | 41-47 cm
20”-23” | 51-59 cm
7.17’-8.5’ | 2.19-2.59 m
198-331 lb | 90-150 kg
45-58 years
Striped Dolphin
47.000
59.000
259.000
150.000
58.00
7800
3D
Striped Dolphin
Vaquita
186000
12”-14” | 30-36 cm
12”-15” | 30-37 cm
4’-5’ | 1.2-1.5 m
100-110 lb | 45-50 kg
20 years (average)
Vaquita
36.000
37.000
150.000
50.000
20.00
186000
3D
Vaquita
Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Scale illustration of an average Common Minke Whale with dimensions length compared to a human and sea cows

The Common Minke whale also referred to as the Northern Minke whale belongs to the family Balaenopteridae. They are usually smaller compared to other baleen whales and are notoriously inquisitive. These whales’ backs are covered in a black, brown, or inky grey hue with bellies and under their flippers being lighter than the rest of their bodies. Common Minke whales inhabit mostly the areas of North Atlantic oceans and occasionally drift to the southern hemisphere during winter. Like other baleen whales, they are often traveling in solitary or small groups and have a lifespan of about 40 to 50 years old. They also spot a dorsal fin and nick along their edges.

Common Minke Whales have a total length between 26’-35’ (7.9-10.7 m), body height of 4.3’-5.9’ (1.3-1.8 m), and width of 6.6’-9.2’ (2-2.8 m). The typical weight of the Common Minke Whale is in the range of 6-10 tons (5-9 metric tons). Common Minke Whale have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Common Minke Whale seen from the side and front
The Common Minke whale also referred to as the Northern Minke whale belongs to the family Balaenopteridae. They are usually smaller compared to other baleen whales and are notoriously inquisitive. These whales’ backs are covered in a black, brown, or inky grey hue with bellies being lighter.

Common Minke Whales have a total length between 26’-35’ (7.9-10.7 m), body height of 4.3’-5.9’ (1.3-1.8 m), and width of 6.6’-9.2’ (2-2.8 m). The typical weight of the Common Minke Whale is in the range of 6-10 tons (5-9 metric tons). Common Minke Whale have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Common Minke Whale seen from the side and front
Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Height:
4.3’-5.9’ | 1.3-1.8 m
Width:
6.6’-9.2’ | 2-2.8 m
Length:
26’-35’ | 7.9-10.7 m
Depth:
Weight:
6-10 tons | 5-9 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Lifespan
40-50 years

Drawings include:

Common Minke Whale side elevation, front, top

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Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Fin Whale to a typical person and sea cows

The Fin whale is number two after the blue whale in terms of weight, size, and body length. The Fin whale or common rorqual or finback whale or herring whale or razorback whale fall under the family Balaenopteridae and also are cosmopolitan species preferring the open ocean and less of an ice pack or small areas of water. The Fin whale is identified by a long, slender body with brownish-grey back and paler underside. Fin whales spot a distinct ridge behind their dorsal fin, paired blowhole, and pointed snout. Additionally, they are filter feeders often traveling in pairs or alone and frequently encountered on whale-watching exercise.

Fin Whales have a total length between 75’-90’ (22.9-27.4 m), body height of 9.5’-11.5’ (2.9-3.5 m), and width of 15.4’-18.4’ (4.7-5.6 m). The typical weight of the Fin Whale is in the range of 74-114 tons (67-103 metric tons). Fin Whale have lifespans between 80-100 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Fin Whale in front and side poses
The Fin whale is number two after the blue whale in terms of weight, size, and body length. The Fin whale or common rorqual or finback whale or herring whale or razorback whale fall under the family Balaenopteridae and also are cosmopolitan species preferring the open ocean.

Fin Whales have a total length between 75’-90’ (22.9-27.4 m), body height of 9.5’-11.5’ (2.9-3.5 m), and width of 15.4’-18.4’ (4.7-5.6 m). The typical weight of the Fin Whale is in the range of 74-114 tons (67-103 metric tons). Fin Whale have lifespans between 80-100 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Fin Whale in front and side poses
Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)
Height:
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
Width:
15.4’-18.4’ | 4.7-5.6 m
Length:
75’-90’ | 22.9-27.4 m
Depth:
Weight:
74-114 tons | 67-103 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Balaenoptera physalus
Lifespan
80-100 years

Drawings include:

Fin Whale side elevation, front, top

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Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Irrawaddy Dolphin to a typical person and similar species

The Irrawaddy dolphin is distinguishable from other dolphins by their very expressive face. These oceanic dolphins are grouped under the family Delphinidae and prefer sea coasts, river outlets, and shallow waters of Southeast Asia, Bay of Bengal, and Indonesia. They are sociable, existing in small groups, slow swimmers, and may occasionally spit spout of water from their mouths. Irrawaddy dolphins lack beaks but are highly recognizable from their charismatic rounded face that makes them resemble baby belugas. Other traits include small dorsal fin but long and larger flippers and greyish body, though their belly is lighter. Irrawaddy dolphins also love to engage in cooperative fishing with local fishermen.

Irrawaddy Dolphins have a total length between 5.92’-9’ (1.8-2.74 m), body height of 14”-21” (36-54 cm), and width of 15”-23” (39-59 cm). The typical weight of the Irrawaddy Dolphin is in the range of 198-441 lb (90-200 kg). Irrawaddy Dolphin have lifespans between 15-30 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Irrawaddy Dolphin in top and side poses
The Irrawaddy dolphin is distinguishable from other dolphins by their very expressive face. These oceanic dolphins are grouped under the family Delphinidae and prefer sea coasts, river outlets, and shallow waters of Southeast Asia, Bay of Bengal, and Indonesia.

Irrawaddy Dolphins have a total length between 5.92’-9’ (1.8-2.74 m), body height of 14”-21” (36-54 cm), and width of 15”-23” (39-59 cm). The typical weight of the Irrawaddy Dolphin is in the range of 198-441 lb (90-200 kg). Irrawaddy Dolphin have lifespans between 15-30 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Irrawaddy Dolphin in top and side poses
Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris)
Height:
14”-21” | 36-54 cm
Width:
15”-23” | 39-59 cm
Length:
5.92’-9’ | 1.8-2.74 m
Depth:
Weight:
198-441 lb | 90-200 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Orcaella brevirostris
Lifespan
15-30 years

Drawings include:

Irrawaddy Dolphin side elevation, front, top

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Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer)
Comparison drawing of the Baiji compared to other similar species and a person

Baijis are functionally extinct toothed whales under the family Lipotidae that populated the freshwater of the mighty Yangtze River. These animals could be found in groups of up to 16 and loved to surface but were shy and quiet, often avoiding boats. The Baiji was identified by a smaller head with a slender long beak upturned slightly at the tip. They also had small eyes with low vision, smaller triangular dorsal fins positioned halfway along their backs, and broadly rounded flippers on thier stocky bodies. Additionally, Baijis featured in Chinese folklore, relied on sonar for navigation, socializing, and showing emotions and believed to live up to 24 years. Baijis had a pale blue or grey coating on their backs and also spotted a white ventral belly side.

Baijis have a total length between 4.5’-8.5’ (1.37-2.59 m), body height of 11”-20” (27-52 cm), and width of 13”-24” (32-61 cm). The typical weight of the Baiji is in the range of 287-375 lb (130-170 kg). Baiji have lifespans between 24-30 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Baiji viewed from the side and top
Baijis are functionally extinct toothed whales under the family Lipotidae that populated the freshwater of the mighty Yangtze River. These animals could be found in groups of up to 16 and loved to surface but were shy and quiet, often avoiding boats.

Baijis have a total length between 4.5’-8.5’ (1.37-2.59 m), body height of 11”-20” (27-52 cm), and width of 13”-24” (32-61 cm). The typical weight of the Baiji is in the range of 287-375 lb (130-170 kg). Baiji have lifespans between 24-30 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Baiji viewed from the side and top
Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer)
Height:
11”-20” | 27-52 cm
Width:
13”-24” | 32-61 cm
Length:
4.5’-8.5’ | 1.37-2.59 m
Depth:
Weight:
287-375 lb | 130-170 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Lipotes vexillifer
Lifespan
24-30 years

Drawings include:

Baiji side elevation, front, top

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Pacific White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Pacific White-Sided Dolphin to a typical person and similar species

The Pacific white-sided dolphin is an energetic and acrobatic dolphin grouped under the family Delphinidae. They prefer the deep offshore waters of the North Pacific ocean. These vertebrates are a genuine beauty with their sturdy bodies covered in shades and tones of black, white, and silvery colors. They also spot stubby beaks, tall, curved bi-colored distinctive dorsal fins, and large rounded flippers. They are very showy, social, love traveling in large groups, and not frightened to hang out with other species or even approaching boats. Pacific white-sided dolphins are also kept in dolphinaria for scientific research and marine theme park shows.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins have a total length between 5.5’-8.17’ (1.68-2.49 m), body height of 13”-19” (33-49 cm), and width of 16”-23” (40-59 cm). The typical weight of the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is in the range of 298-441 lb (135-200 kg). Pacific White-Sided Dolphin have lifespans between 35-46 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Pacific White-Sided Dolphin in top and side poses
The Pacific white-sided dolphin is an energetic and acrobatic dolphin grouped under the family Delphinidae. They prefer the deep offshore waters of the North Pacific ocean. These vertebrates are a genuine beauty with their sturdy bodies covered in shades and tones of black, white, and silver colors.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins have a total length between 5.5’-8.17’ (1.68-2.49 m), body height of 13”-19” (33-49 cm), and width of 16”-23” (40-59 cm). The typical weight of the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is in the range of 298-441 lb (135-200 kg). Pacific White-Sided Dolphin have lifespans between 35-46 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Pacific White-Sided Dolphin in top and side poses
Pacific White-Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)
Height:
13”-19” | 33-49 cm
Width:
16”-23” | 40-59 cm
Length:
5.5’-8.17’ | 1.68-2.49 m
Depth:
Weight:
298-441 lb | 135-200 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Lagenorhynchus obliquidens
Lifespan
35-46 years

Drawings include:

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin side elevation, front, top

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