Species found in Australian waters

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are warm blooded, air breathing marine mammals which give birth to live young. 'Cetacean' is the scientific name (of the Order Cetacea) which refers to whales, dolphins and porpoises.

  • Whales, dolphins and Porpoises - what's the difference

Australia's extensive coastline provides a wide range of aquatic habitats. Consequently, at least 45 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises are found in Australian waters including 10 large whales, 20 smaller whales, 14 dolphins and one porpoise.

List of species

General information on the biology, population status, distribution and habitat of cetaceans can be found on the Species Profile and Threats Database.

The whales and dolphins which live in Australia's waters are listed below. They are categorised into their two main sub-orders; Mysticeti (Baleen whales) and Odontoceti (Toothed whales).

Species found in Akustralian waters
Baleen whales
Sei whale Bryde's whale
Pygmy right whale Blue whale
Antarctic minke whale Humpback whale
Dwarf minke whale (subspecies) Fin whale
Southern right whale  
Toothed whales
Sperm whale Long-finned pilot whale
Pygmy sperm whale Short-finned pilot whale
Dwarf sperm whale Melon-headed whale
Gray's beaked whale Rough-toothed dolphin
Andrews' beaked whale Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin
True's beaked whale Dusky dolphin
Ginkgo-toothed beaked whale Hourglass dolphin
Cuvier's beaked whale Risso's dolphin
Hector's beaked whale Coastal bottlenose (Indo-Pacific) dolphin
Shepherd's beaked whale Pantropical spotted dolphin
Arnoux's beaked whale Spinner dolphin
Longman's beaked whale Striped dolphin
Blainville's beaked whale Common dolphin
Strap-toothed beaked whale Fraser's dolphin
Southern bottlenose whale Southern right whale dolphin
Killer whale Australian snubfin dolphin
Pygmy killer whale Spectacled porpoise
False killer whale Bottlenose dolphin

Whale habitat in Australian waters

Australian waters support a large number of whale species. These waters provide important habitat that support whales through the stages of their life cycle including calving, feeding, resting and migration.

The following maps show the important habitat for some of the iconic species found in our waters including the humpback, southern right, blue and sperm whales.

Humpback whales

Map of imortant areas for humpback whales - Click to enlarge

Important areas for humpback whales

Download PDF of map (PDF - 2217KB)

Southern right whales

Map of imortant areas for southern right whales - Click to enlarge

Important areas for southern right whales

Download PDF of map (PDF - 2417KB)

Blue whales

Map of imortant areas for blue whales - Click to enlarge

Important areas for blue whales

Download PDF of map (PDF - 1759KB)

Sperm whales

Map of imortant areas for sperm whales - Click to enlarge

Important areas for sperm whales

Download PDF of map (PDF - 1710KB)