Whales and Dolphins of Nicaragua

Known for its extensive biodiversity and spectacular scenery, Nicaragua is a popular ecotourism destination for nature lovers. The country’s many nature reserves serve as a refuge for its flora and fauna, ensuring that they remain in the most natural state possible. Equally fascinating, but maybe not as well known, are the whales and dolphins found in the waters of Nicaragua.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are mammals scientifically classified under the order Cetacea, and there are three species of whales found in Nicaraguan waters – the Blue Whale, Blainville’s Beaked Whale, and Pygmy Beaked Whale. Although the Orca is generally thought of as a whale, it actually falls into the Delphinidae Family of marine dolphins, as is the case with the Pygmy Killer Whale, both of which are also found along the coastlines of Nicaragua.

The Blue Whale is considered to be the largest known animal in the world, weighing in at 190 metric tons and up to 33.3 meters in length. Blue Whales were found in all of the Earth’s oceans prior to the twentieth century, but were almost wiped out by whalers before being classed as an internationally protected species in 1966. True to its name, the Blaineville’s Beaked Whale has a prominent jaw bone, or beak, as a distinguishing feature. It was identified and named by French zoologist and anatomist Henri de Blainville in 1817. Also referred to as the Bandolero Beaked Whale, Peruvian Beaked Whale and Lesser Beaked Whale, the Pygmy Beaked Whale is the smallest in the Genus Mesoplodon, and also the newest member in the Genus as it was only identified and documented in 1991.

Members of the Delphinidae Family (marine dolphins) found in Nicaragua’s waters include the Costero, Rough-toothed Dolphin, Clymene Dolphin, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Spinner Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Orca and Pygmy Killer Whale. Found in deep tropical waters around the world, one of the identifying characteristics of the Rough-toothed Dolphin is the ragged thin strips of enamel running vertically down its teeth. Despite the numbers captured in trawling nets when fishing for tuna, these dolphins are not considered to be endangered. The Costero dolphin is found along the coast of South America and resembles the well-known Bottlenose Dolphin.

As its name would suggest, the Spinner Dolphin is known for its energetic acrobatic displays, which includes spinning longitudinally along its axis as it leaps clear above the water. The sheer entertainment value of these fast-moving marine mammals makes them a favorite among groups out on a whale-watching, dolphin-spotting tour, whether out on the water, or watching from the shore. If you are planning a visit to this beautiful Central American country, you may want to include the whales and dolphins of Nicaragua on your list of things to see.