There are more than 60 species belonging
to the family Delphinidae, the largest family of cetaceans.
Of those that are commonly referred to as "dolphins" (others
are called "whales"), seven have been documented in the
Philippines, according to a Silliman University report. These are
the Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), Pantropical
spotted dolphin (S. attenuata), Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis
hosei), Bottlenosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Rough-toothed
dolphin (Steno bredanensis), Striped dolphin (S. coeruleoalba),
and Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus). Another species is,
the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin, is not in the Silliman report
but appears on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources'
list of endangered marine animals.
Dolphins are among the most well-loved creatures of the sea, thanks
in part to stories about dolphins rescuing drowning people and movies
such as the Flipper series which depict dolphins as man's
friendly and intelligent allies of the sea. Such stories endure
in many cultures, as drowning survivors' tales are handed down from
generation to generation. The Saddleback dolphin is a central character
in a Greek tale about a boy who rode a dolphin to and from school
each day. It is also a widely known fact that dolphins aid other
dolphins, keeping them afloat when they are in danger of drowning.
They generally travel in schools and may help each other in fighting
off enemies, sometimes killing large sharks by ramming them repeatedly,
or even, as some theories suggest, using bursts of sound to stun
fish or other prey.
Issues and threats: While the dolphins' image
is generally positive, commercial fishermen sometimes consider them
as competitors, saying dolphins eat their own weight of fish every
day. Tuna fishermen, especially, have become notorious for their
conflict with dolphins - in the past, they were said to deliberately
drown about 300,000 dolphins a year in their nets, and stopped the
practice only when confronted by a horrified and indignant public.
While the situation is much improved, man's conflict with dolphins
persists in some places. Ironically, dolphins are being killed after
leading fishermen to big tuna schools. For some reason, dolphins
and tuna are often found together, although neither feeds on the
Scientific name: Sousa chinensis
Common names: Indo-pacific Humpback dolphin
Distinguishing marks or features: Light-colored body, with a distinctive
Food: There are persistent rumors that this species is
a vegetarian but, in fact, it feeds on fish.
Protection efforts: Fisheries Administrative Order
No. 185, Series of 1992, prohibits the taking, catching, selling,
purchasing, possessing, transporting and exporting of cetaceans
belonging to the family Delphinidae.