Color logo with background

What is a Baby Dolphin Called

what is a baby dolphin called?

A baby dolphin is commonly called a calf, similar to whales and other cetaceans. This term is widely used by marine biologists and dolphin experts when referring to newborn and juvenile dolphins.

Why are Baby Dolphins Called Calves?

  • Dolphin calves stay with their mothers for several years after birth, forming a strong mother-calf bond, just like whale calves.
  • The gestation period for dolphins is around 12 months and results in a single calf, furthering the similarity to whale calves.
  • Other less common names for baby dolphins include pup, kit, and kid. But calf is the most standard name used in scientific literature.

Interesting Facts About Dolphin Calves

  • Dolphin calves are usually born tail first to minimize risk of drowning and take their first breath at the surface.
  • Calves nurse on dolphin milk for 1-2 years but stay with their mothers for up to 4 years to learn skills.
  • Mothers care for the single calf with help from other female dolphins in the pod.
  • In the first year, calves start developing echolocation and learn to hunt and engage in play, under close supervision.
  • Calves initially swim alongside mothers to ride in their slipstream and conserve energy.
  • Each dolphin calf develops a unique signature whistle for identification within its first few months.

Physical Development Stages of Dolphin Calves

AgeDevelopmental Milestones
Birth to 4 monthsNursing, swim alongside mother, shedding of hair
4 to 6 monthsGrowing teeth, learning to catch fish
6 months to 1 yearImproving swimming skills and stamina
1 to 2 yearsWeaning off mother’s milk, hunting small fish
2 to 4 yearsLearning advanced skills like communication, play, and group behaviors
How Long Do Calves Stay with Their Mothers?

How Long Do Calves Stay with Their Mothers?

  • Nurse for 1-2 years
  • Stay together for 3-6 years
  • Mothers very protective during this time
  • Other females help care for the calf

Comparison of Calves Between Dolphin Species

SpeciesGestation PeriodCalf Size at BirthTime with Mother
Bottlenose Dolphin12 months3-4 ft, 25-45 lbs3-6 years
Orca17 months7-8 ft, 400 lbsLifetime
Amazon River Dolphin13 months2-3 ft, 15-30 lbs2-3 years
Common Dolphin11 months2-3 ft, 15-25 lbs1-3 years


So, in summary, calf is the most accurate term used to describe baby dolphins, especially bottlenose dolphins, due to their biological similarities with whale calves. This name is widely used and recognized among dolphin experts and trainers when referring to juveniles.

You might also be interested in reading:

Picture of Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share on.