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Guiana dolphin

Sotalia guianensis

It’s easy to muddle up the Guiana dolphin and tucuxi because they look similar and live in the same part of the world.  Recent studies have confirmed that they are genetically distinct separate species.

The Guiana dolphin lives in coastal marine habitats and tends not to venture upstream into rivers, and the tucuxi lives in freshwater rivers and lakes, but their habitats do overlap.

Guiana dolphins are agile and active but strangely they do not seem to choose to bow-ride. This may simply be because they are shy and do not wish to approach boats too closely.  They do surf at a distance in waves produced by passing boats.

Other names: Sotalia; Costero

Oceanic dolphin silhouette
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 1.9m 2.2m 0.7m
Maximum weight 121kg 121kg Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Near Threatened

What do Guiana dolphins look like?

The Guiana Dolphin looks just like a mini bottlenose dolphin. They are light grey to bluish grey on the back and pinkish to light grey on the belly. As adults, females are almost always larger than males. They have a grey stripe between the eye and flipper.  Their eyes are large and have black patches around them.

What’s life like for a Guiana dolphin?

Guiana dolphins are fast swimming, lively, agile and very sociable. Their groups are always cohesive as each individual dolphin appears to be very aware of others in the group and they all engage in the same activities at the same time. Guiana dolphins perform impressive acrobatics including full leaps, spy hops, lobtails, flipper slaps, fluke-ups, surface rolls and porpoising. They make short dives, lasting anything from only five seconds to two minutes.  Photo-identification studies in southern Brazil have shown some individual dolphins can live in one area for up to ten years.

Males reach sexual maturity at 6-7 years of age and females mature at 5-7 years. Guiana dolphin pregnancies last from 11 to 12 months and females give birth about every two to three years and 9 months.

It's not known what the population size of Guiana dolphins is.

What do Guiana dolphins eat?

A wide variety of small bottom-feeding as well as open-ocean fish, squid, crabs and shrimps.

Where do Guiana dolphins live?

The Guiana dolphin is found in coastal shallow waters and estuaries along the Atlantic coast of South and Central America, from southern Brazil in the south to Nicaragua in the north. They are also found around some of the Caribbean islands. Guiana dolphins are patchily distributed probably due to their relatively small home ranges.

It's a dog's life...

In southeastern Brazil, Guiana dolphins have been observed swimming spontaneously with domestic dogs.

Distribution map

Guiana dolphin distribution map
Life Expectancy

Guiana dolphins need your help

The main threats...

  • Pollution – Guiana dolphins generally live close to human populations so their homes are often pollution by sewage and industrial waste.
  • Fishing gear – Guiana dolphin get entangled in fishing equipment such as gillnets, seine nets and shrimp and fish traps.

You can help save Guiana dolphins...

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Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin © Mike Bossley/WDC


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