The Chinese white dolphin (aka humpback dolphin or pink dolphin) is a small – mid-sized dolphin that can be found traveling in the waters of southeast Asia.
These dolphins may also be referred to as the Atlantic humpback, Indian humpback and Pacific humpback dolphin depending on where it is located.
Although they are usually found in small pods they are considered a very social species.
As the name suggest these dolphins have a hump shaped back that makes them distinguishable from other dolphin species.
Physical Characteristics and Appearance
On average the Chinese white dolphin can reach lengths of 6 1/2 to 11 1/2 ft. long and weigh up to 500 lbs. when fully grown.
They have a long beak with conical teeth, a triangular-shaped dorsal fin with a humped back and streamlined body.
As with all dolphins these marine mammals have a single blowhole located on top of its head located above the eyes.
In terms of color these dolphins are often a dark gray/black color at birth and change to a lighter gray, pink and then white color as they age, and some dolphins may be spotted or have multiple color patterns across their body during their maturing phase.
Diet and Hunting Methods
These marine mammals have been spotted hunting for food near reefs and even temporarily beaching themselves to capture prey that’s been washed ashore.
Given their near shore diet and opportunistic feeding behavior most hunting occurs in and around the shoreline.
When searching for food they have also been spotted holding their breath for up to 8 minutes during deep dives with 10 -30 second rises to the surface for fresh air before descending back into the water.
Younger offspring are only able to hold their breath for half as long as they have smaller, less developed lungs.
The Chinese white dolphin can also use echolocation to help it navigate the ocean and search for food.
Habitat and Migration
The Chinese white dolphins tends to prefer traveling in the coastal regions of warm tropical waters.
These dolphins are known to inhibit the waters of south-east Asia.
They are also known to inhibit the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
During mating periods the Chinese white dolphin has been spotted in areas such as Australia and south Africa.
Depending on where these marine mammals are located they may or may not display seasonal migration changes.
Those that do migrate appear to do so in order to maintain their food supply during certain times of the year, however some dolphins also migrate for unknown reasons.
Social Structure and Communication
The Chinese white dolphin appears to be a very social species.
These dolphins typically travel in groups of 5 or less and communicate using a series of clicks and whistles.
At times they may be seen leaping out of the water and exposing their full body during certain social activities.
Breeding and Reproduction
The average gestation period for the Chinese white dolphin is about 11 months.
After birth the baby dolphins are fed milk and cared for by their mother until they are able to hunt and survive on their own.
Sexual maturity begins around the ages of 9 – 14 depending on the dolphins sex with females maturing at a younger age than their male counterparts.
Once sexually mature these dolphins may bear a single offspring once every 3 years or so.
The primary mating period for the Chinese white dolphin appears to be between summer and fall.
In terms of lifespan it is estimated that these dolphins have a lifespan of around 40 years.
Bycatch: As with a number of other species these dolphins are known to face threats from accidental catches in fishing nets.
When these dolphins see a group of fish balled into a single area they rush in thinking that its easy prey only to end up caught in a fishing net where they end up drowning.
They may also run into fishing nets that appear transparent as they may be difficult to see.
Hunting: In addition to accidental catches they have also been known to be purposely hunted so that their meat and oil could be sold for human consumption/use.
Habitat degradation – Commercialized areas can have an ecological impact on the health of these marine mammals and their habitat.
Increased pollution, food poisoning, aquatic constructions, noise pollution and boat strikes are all potential causes of habitat degradation and increasing the risk of mortality rates for the Chinese white dolphin.