Grampus griseus   (G. Cuvier,  1812) (Dolphin)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: New born: 1.2-1.5 m; Adult: 3.8 m. The females are a little shorter than males.

Weight: 400-500 kg, even up to 680 kg.

Color: Risso’s Dolphins are dark to light grey above, with older individuals being paler. The head is sometimes completely white, with a dark area around each eye. There is a deep crease or furrow down the center of the forehead from the blowhole to the upper lip. The dorsal fin and an area of back adjacent to the fin’s base, the flippers and the flukes remain dark. Extensive white scarring covers the body of the adult animals, making them readily recognizable. The scars seem to be the marks made by the teeth of mates or rivals. There is an oval or anchor shaped white patch on the chest and chin.

The body of this dolphin is deep and massive for the front 2/3rd, and tapers behind the dorsal fin to the narrow tail stock. There is no beak, and the head is large and blunt. The slight, melon is marked by a deep crease that may be observed only form close quarters. The long, pointed flippers are broad-based, and the tall, slender dorsal fin is very prominent. Normally, there are no teeth in the upper jaw and only a few in the lower jaw. These teeth are strong and oval and located at the front of the jaw. They may number 2-7 in each row.

Risso’s Dolphins, named after a French naturalist, usually travel in groups of 12-50, but may be seen as single animal or in herds of several hundreds. These are active dolphins, spyhopping, breaching and slapping their tail flukes.

Similar species: At a distance can be confused with Bottlenosed Dolphin and Killer Whale with which they share tall dorsal fin. On closer examination, however their extensively scarred body and squarish head of the former makes identification easier.

Synonym (s)
Delphinus aires G. Cuvier, 1812
Delphinus griseus G. Cuvier, 1812
Delphinus orca Temminck & Schlegel, 1841
Delphinus risso Risso, 1826
Delphinus rissoanus Desmarest, 1822
Delphinus rissoi Gervais, 1859
Globicephalus rissii Hamilton, 1837
Gramphidelphis griseus Kellogg, 1940
Grampidelphis exilis Iredale & Troughton, 1933
Grampidelphis griseus Iredale & Troughton, 1933
Grampidelphis kuzira Iredale & Troughton, 1933
Grampus cuvieri Gray, 1846
Grampus richardsoni Gray, 1850
Grampus rissoanus Murie, 1871
Grampus sakamata Gray, 1846
Grampus sakata Tomilin, 1957
Grampus sowerbianus Fischer, 1881
Grampus stearnsii Dall, 1873
Phocaena griseus F. Cuvier, 1836
Phocaena rissonus F. Cuvier, 1836

Common Name (s)
• Risso's Dolphin (English)
• Grey Dolphin (English)
• Grampus
• Grey Grampus (English)
• Panavai meen (Tamil)
• Risso's Grampus (English)
• White Headed Grampus (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Accidental and intentional trapping has been reported throughout the species range, thereby threatening their population stocks.)

Habitat:  Demersal
Prey:  Squids
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Tamil Nadu, Off Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai Harbour (Lat: 13.08) (Long: 79.76) INDIA (Record: 09/2004, 10/2004)

Literature Source(s)
  • Agarwal, VC and Alfred, JRB (1999) Handbook: Whales, dolphins and dugong from Indian seas ZSI, Calcutta 150 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at -
  • Venkatraman, K; Srinivasan, M; Satyanarayana, CH and Prabhakar D (2002) Faunal diversity of Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve Conservation area series 15 ZSI 77 pp; VIII pla Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at -
  • Baldwin, R (1995) Whale and dolphin research in the UAE Tribulus 5(2)
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Krishnana, AA; Yousufa, KS; Kumarana, PL; Harisha, N; Anoopa, B; Afsala, VV; Rajagopalana, M; Vivekanandana, E; Krishnakumar, PK and Jayasankara, P (2007) Stomach contents of cetaceans incidentally caught along Mangalore and Chennai coasts of India Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Elsevier B.V. 76(4) 909-913 Available at -
  • Yousuf, KSSM; Anoop, AK; Anoop, B; Afsal, VV; Vivekanandan, E; Kumarran, RP; Rajagopalan, M; Krishnakumar, PK and Jayasankar, P (2009) Observations on incidental catch of cetaceans in three landing centres along the Indian coast Marine Biodiversity Records Cambridge University Press 4 1-5 Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

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