Dolphins In California: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Any Dolphins In California?

Dolphins In California
Dolphins In California: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Yes, there are dolphins in California. There are over 11 species of dolphins found in Californian waters. Dolphins can be found all year round in California but are most plentiful during warmer water regimes in winter and fall. 

Their habitat mostly ranges in Baja California. Currently, there are over thousands of dolphins in Californian water, and are not in danger of extinction. There are, however, a few threats that affect population numbers and distribution.

Types Of Dolphins That Live In California

There are many different kinds of dolphins in California and most of them are common to the Californian waters. Here are some of the most commonly found dolphins in California. 

  • Common Bottlenose Dolphins

Common dolphins are the most abundant and commonly found dolphins in California. There are over 450,000 common dolphins living in California. There are two common dolphin species, the long-beaked and short-beaked common dolphin. 

Though their name is similar, they are different kinds of dolphins. These dolphins weigh anywhere from 180 to 500 pounds. With females being slightly smaller than males in both species. 

Short-beaked dolphins are robust and smaller than long-beaked ones. Similarly, small-beaked dolphins measure up to 6 feet long, and long-beaked dolphins reach up to 8.5 feet in length. 1

  • Risso’s Dolphins

Risso’s dolphins are shy around humans but are very unique in striking possess. They are probably the unique dolphin in California for their discolored spotting. The species is born black, dark gray, and brown. 

As they grow their color changes to light gray or almost white. The markings are from everyday scarring caused by social interactions with other dolphins. 

They have a rounded shaped bulbous head, weighing between 660 to 1,110 pounds. Typically, they will reach up to 13 feet and attain sexual maturity in 8 to 10 years. 1

  • Bottlenose Dolphins

The one kind of dolphin in California that is most recognizable is the bottlenose dolphin. These species have white underbellies with gray backs. They are highly intelligent ocean creatures. 

Babies are born 30 to 40 pounds and below 48” in length. Before reaching lengths of 8 to 12 feet they can weigh over 1,000 pounds. Wild Bottlenose Dolphins, can live over 40 years in the sea with females outliving males and reaching their 60s. 1

  • Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Another kind type of dolphin in California waters that is often found in the wintertime is the Pacific white-sided dolphin. They have an elegant white underbelly, dorsal fin, and white stripes extending from their eye to the sides that widen at the tail. 

These ocean creatures have sharp and tall dorsal fins. They are energetic, fast, and like riding under the pressure of the bow for long periods. As they are very active, they can be seen proposing, breaching, and exhibiting their acrobatics and aerial somersaulting talents. 1

Where Do Dolphins Live In California?

Dolphins In California
Dolphins In California: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Dolphins are mostly seen along the northern and central California coastline, often seen in herds roaming over many individuals. 

Monterey Bay is another spot as the canyon edge facilitates upwelling and focuses prey availability, likely providing a predictable and abundant food source for the dolphins. In Monterey Bay, dolphins can be seen all year round with population sizes ranging over thousand individuals.

Also, Check Our Guide On Dolphins In Amazon River

How Many Dolphins Are In California?

Bottlenose dolphins which are the most commonly seen dolphin in Californian waters have an estimated coastal population of between 346 to 515 individuals. Though the population of dolphins is stable in the California Coastal area, they are prone to many threats including, pollution, vessel collisions, habitat alteration, activities causing harassment, recreational fishing, and other kinds of human disturbance.

What Is The Largest Dolphin In California?

Risso’s dolphin also known as Grampus griseus is one of the largest dolphin species in California. They have a relatively huge anterior body with a dorsal fin, while the rear tapers to a narrow tail. 

The bulbous body of the head has a steep crease in front. Length is typically 10 feet, though specimens might reach 13 feet. Like most dolphins. Males are usually slightly bigger than females. These species weigh 660 to 1,100 lbs, which makes them the largest species in the dolphin.

What Beach In California Has Dolphins?

For all people who like to surf, Laguna Beach in Southern California is an amazing experience that will certainly find yourself swimming alongside dolphins. 

There is nothing more impressive than being able to encounter the wild habitat where dolphins live and seeing them float with you. 

This is a sure up-close personal opportunity for visitors who run on down in summer, as the dolphins of California beaches are known to enjoy the company of surfers as they struck the waves.

Can You Own A Dolphin In California?

It is illegal in the U.S. to own or even harass any marine mammal. Even when you go on a dolphin watch cruise, you can notice that you will have to stop at a specific distance from the dolphins. Only institutions are allowed to own marine animals with permits. This is possible only when they meet specific requirements. Also, there are very specific requirements for every species. 

Can You Swim With Dolphins In California?

Here are a few best places in the Golden State to swim with dolphins.

  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Situated in Vallejo, California, this park caters to people who like marine life and of course, want the chance to swim with the dolphins. The facility lets its visitors take a session that will well as teach them about the knowledge of interacting with the dolphins. Through the Dolphin Discovery program visitors can learn about dolphins as they interact with them.

  • SeaWorld San Diego California Theme Park

Another perfect venue, to experience interactions with dolphins is the SeaWorld’s Dolphin Interaction Program. Swimming with dolphins is an extremely memorable experience and get the chance to communicate with these wonderful sea creatures. 

As you experience being with dolphins in the water, there will be in-house coaches who will assist you and guide you with hand signals for interactions and play as you you get in touch and feed.


And that was everything you need to know about the Dolphins In California. I hope this article answered all your queries.

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