What is Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin?

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a species of humpback dolphin that lives in the coastal waters of the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans. It is commonly known as the Chinese white dolphin in some regions. While some biologists believe that it is a subspecies of the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, studies using DNA testing have confirmed that they are two separate species.

Why is the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin in News?

A group of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins was spotted recently off the coast of Injambakkam. Over 30 to 40 of these dolphins were found 500 meters away from the coast. Each dolphin had a unique colouration of pink and grey. These species are threatened by pollution, fishing nets, declining fish stocks and the degradation of mangrove habitats. The Humpback dolphins have a hump ahead of their dorsal fin.

They are commonly found in the regions of East Africa to India. Australian Humpback dolphins were segregated as different species from the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins in 2014.

Reasons for the different colours of Humpback dolphins spotted: Thermoregulation

The adult humpback dolphins are pink in colour. The baby humpback dolphins are dark grey in colour. The pinkish complexion is because of their well-developed blood vessels. These blood vessels are overdeveloped in the dolphins for thermoregulation. Thermoregulation is the phenomenon by which an organism keeps its body temperature under control. Thermoconforming on the other hand means adapting to the surrounding temperature.

This means the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins cannot keep their body temperatures under a control after a certain limit. They maintain thermal equilibrium with the environment by adjusting their body temperature. If the temperature increases or decreases beyond a threshold, they are in danger. Humans adopt the phenomenon of “thermoregulation” and not “thermoconforming”.


  • IUCN: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Wildlife Protection Act. 1972: Not included. Only Gangetic dolphins and Snubfin dolphins are included in the act




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