Identifying cetaceans

Cetaceans are marine mammals in the order of Cetacea, which includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. In Australian waters, 10 large and 20 smaller whale species have been observed, along with 14 dolphin species. Only one species of porpoise, the spectacled porpoise, is noted in Australian waters, although it is typically observed in waters close to the Antarctic.

What to take note of to identify species……..

To help identify cetacean species found in our local waters, take note of the following features:

  • Size of individuals
  • Presence, or lack of, dorsal fin and its position
  • Size and shape of pectoral fins
  • Shape and height of blow
  • Surfacing and diving behaviour
  • Body size, shape, and colour

Illustrations by Tony Pyrzakowski ©

To discover the toothed and baleen cetaceans, and seals, that can be found in our Victorian waters, check out the identification guide developed by DELWP.