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Check out our species of interest.

Dolphins of Ponta


Dolphins, like humans have a fingerprint and although sometimes we have to wait for the fingerprint to form, each animal as time goes by develops a unique and individualized dorsal fins. 

The fin is made up of cartilage that is easily nicked, torn and tattered. Notches on the leading edge of the fin are generally cased from the dolphin swimming into something ie: fishing gut or rope and notches on the trailing edge are caused from ware and tear, rough socializing amongst themselves or shark encounters. Coupled with this; scarring, broken jaws, pigmentation and various other elements are also used for identification. This is achieved by both top and in water photography and videography.

We use a process called mark and recapture and basically what that means is that each time we are out there we visually capture all the data in order to process it at a later stage. Once back on land data pertaining to the actual sighting is entered into the database, images are dumped, labeled and stored. They are then cropped and catalogued. The id project allows us to build accurate profiles of individuals and their associations. This information is made available to various researchers and organisations in the field and has been used by both Mozambican and foreign students in studies.

Below is Rob, he was the first dolphin to make it onto the dolphincare data base and has been seen over the past 20 years! He was named after the first official dolphin skipper in Mozambique!               

Images 1997/2007/2017

#DOLPHINSOFPONTA and support our research efforts in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve. Adoptions are made available through our partners at the Society for Dolphin Conservation in Germany. Some of our most loved dolfriends like old man Rob and Beautiful Bo and gregarious Gilly and their family lines can be adopted!

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Tursiops aduncus 2018 = 309

Are characterised by being slightly smaller than the oceanic bottlenose cousins (Tursiops truncatus) with a longer, pronounced beak and falcate dorsal fin. Like their spotted cousins the Spotteds these dolphins also begin freckling on their bellies as they reach sexual maturity. The older the dolphin, the more fused the freckling. Varying shades of grey coloration are found and they have a cape that runs from behind the head with some individuals having distinct dark eye patches. They have a lifespan that can be comparable to ours, living as long as 45+ years in the wild with a fully mature adult measuring 2,5 meters in length and weighing 190kg’s. 

SIZE: 2,5m = 184kg

DISTRIBUTION: Tropical & temperate coastal and shallow regions of the Indian and South Pacific Oceans.
TEETH: 35 pairs
DIET: Reef fish, sandy bottom fish, pelagic fish & cephalopods

HABITAT: Coastal shallows

GESTATION:±12 months 

MATURITY: ± 12 to 15 depending on sex


Red List (ICUN): Data Deficient 

SA Red Data Book: Vulnerable

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Sousa plumbea  2017 = 22

The occurrence of the shy and illusive humpback dolphin in the Reserve has been recorded for the past decade. This endangered species is seen normally in association with the gregarious bottlenose dolphin in small groups <5.

They are distinguishable by being much lighter grey in coloration, have a long elongated beak and a distinctive fleshy hump in close proximity to a rather small and squat dorsal fin. Broad flippers with rounded tip. A distinct line extends from flipper to eye. Calves born light grey - darkening with age. Beak our surfacing is characteristic of this species. 

SIZE: 2,5m = 196kg

DISTRIBUTION: Tropical & temperate coastal waters, there are now four 
TEETH: ± 37 pairs
DIET: Fish, mollusks & crustaceans

HABITAT: Coastal shallows & esturine

GESTATION:  ± 12 months 

MATURITY: ± 10 to 13 depending on sex


Red List (ICUN): Near threatened

SA Red Data Book: Data Deficient

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Stenella attenuata 2017 = 4

Spotted dolphins occur within the Reserve and are often sighted in the company of the Spinners, usually seen offshore. They get their name from a spotting pattern that develops as they age. The elders can be recognisable through their white lips. The have a long narrow beak  & dark cape extending above the eyes. With age the belly darkens and speckling starts, followed by white spotting on the back. With age the spots fuse. We do not attempt in-water encounters with this species as they have not been habituated.

SIZE: 1,5m = 33kg

DISTRIBUTION: Tropical, sub-tropical & warm temperate regions. 
TEETH:  ± 35 pairs upper and lower jaw
DIET: Fish & cephalopods

HABITAT: Occuring inshore and in the open ocean.

LONGEVITY: ±39-45.5
GESTATION: ±11.5 months 

MATURITY: 10 to 16 years depending on sex


ICUN: Lower Risk, conservation dependant

SA Red Data Book: Data Deficient

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Stenella longirostis 2017 = 14

Long Snouted Spinner  are by far the most acrobatic dolphin in the sea. The acrobatic 360 degree spins are how the spinner dolphin received it’s name.

Spinners are slender and small in comparison to the inshore cousins and have a long and slender beak edged with black margins. We do not attempt in-water encounters with them as they have not been habituated.

SIZE: 1,8m = 57kg

DISTRIBUTION: Tropical waters around the globe. 
TEETH:  ± 47 pairs upper and lower jaw
DIET: Fish, squid & crustations

HABITAT: Occuring inshore and in the open ocean.

GESTATION: ± 10,5months 

MATURITY: 4 to 10 years depending on sex


ICUN: Lower Risk, conservation dependant

SA Red Data Book: Data Deficient

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My time spent with the dolphins has been an evolutionary process in it’s own way. Having first started off as a naive early 20 something year old young ‘lady’ from the northern suburbs of Johannesburg I have been humbled by being able to share the space of the wild Dolphins of Ponta and see their many behaviors, how they engage with each other,  ourselves and other beings and objects that they might across.

During the early 90’s is was taboo to anthropomorphize dolphins, however over the last decade we have seen more of a movement towards dolphins being recognized as non-human persons. Accounts of mourning, culture and self awareness have given rise to a new way of dolphin thinking whereby we acknowledge and respect these beings as sentient. Perhaps if this was the way we were all conditioned to think from the beginning, the slaughter, abuse and disregard of our cetacean cousins would not be where it is today.

One of the most profound books I have read on my dolphin journey (and there have been a few) has to be In Defense of Dolphins by Thomas I White. Although I have always thought of dolphins as non-humans persons, this book just solidified it for me.

New scientific research on dolphin intelligence suggests that dolphins are "non-human persons" who are vulnerable to a range of both emotional and physical pain. They are able to reflect upon and choose their actions and are self conscious, unique individual personalities who are able to remember and recall.

They appear to have both acoustic and non- acoustic ways to communicate vital information to members of their pod. And they devote a good deal of time and energy to developing and maintaining strong relationships with other members of the group. Indeed, the centrality of relationships in their lives probably means that on a daily basis they process more emotional information and are called on to use emotional skills more than humans do. The similarities suggest that dolphins qualify for moral standing as individuals and, therefore, are entitled to treatment of a particular sort. The differences, however, suggest that species-specific standards may apply when it comes to determining something as basic as "harm."

This book argues that dolphins have intellectual and emotional abilities sophisticated enough to grant them “moral standing” and is a valuable read for anyone who is interested in learing about dolphins!

The novel ‘Dolphin Way’ Rise of the Guardians by Mark Caney paints a wonderful picture of a pod of dolphins that are portrayed in this way. The book takes you on a heartfelt and emotional journey with Sky and has his fellow students.


We celebrate 22 years of magical dolphin encounters and continued longterm monitoring of the Dolphins of Ponta in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, Mozambique.

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