Scientific name

Sousa plumbea

Locally known as


IUCN status

Near Threatened


The Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin is a slow-swimming dolphin, typically travelling at an average speed of 4.8 km/hr. It feeds on a variety of fish, cephalopods and crustaceans.

Key threats

 Entrapment in abandoned fishing nets and vessel strikes, habitat loss from dredging, land reclamation, port and harbour construction, noise pollution and other developmental activities.

Where they're found today

Abu Dhabi is home to the largest population in the world.  You can spot them in shallow waters and channels around the off-shore islands and the mainland of Abu Dhabi where they occur alone or in groups of up to 24 individuals.

Abu Dhabi’s efforts

EAD runs long-term research and monitoring programmes on Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins, which helps us identify the areas that need monitoring and protection.

Fun facts

  1. A dolphin calf can swim, within a few seconds of its birth, to follow its mother.
  2. Dolphins emit a unique whistle that identifies them with members of the same species and pod.
  3. Like bats, dolphins use echo-location to navigate and hunt, bouncing high pitched sounds off of objects and listening for the echoes.
  4. Dolphins must consciously swim to the surface to take a breath. This means they can never fully sleep.
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