River dolphin facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
River dolphins
Ganges River Dolphin
Photographer:Brian D. Smith
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Superfamily: Platanistoidea

River dolphins are five species of dolphin which live in fresh water rivers and estuaries. Three species live in fresh water rivers. The La Plata Dolphin lives in salt water estuaries and the ocean.

  • South Asian river dolphins (two sub-species)
  • South American river dolphins (three species)
    • Amazon river dolphin (or Boto), Inia geoffrensis – Largest of river dolphins, lives in Peru and Brazil.
    • Araguaia river dolphin, Inia araguaiaensis – Recently discovered in the river basin in Brazil after which it is named. Identified as a separate species by genetic sequence analysis.
    • La Plata dolphin (or Franciscana), Pontoporia blainvillei – Lives in Argentina.
  • Chinese river dolphin (or Baiji), Lipotes vexillifer – Lives in the Yangtze River in China (one of the most endangered of all dolphins and whales). Recent counts have come up with 17 remaining individuals. Scientists now want to raise some dolphins in a lake.

Differences between marine and river dolphins

Both river dolphins and marine dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans. The snout of a river dolphin measures about 58 centimeters (2 ft) long, approximately four times as long as that of most marine dolphins. They use their long snout to search for fish on the muddy bottom of the river. River dolphins have smaller eyes than marine dolphins, and their vision is poorly developed because they live in dark, muddy water. River dolphins are less active than marine dolphins because they do not need to search so widely to find fish. Marine dolphins work in pods (packs) because when they find a shoal of fish then they work together to make the most of their find. River dolphins work mostly as individuals or small groups.


The following is the taxonomy of river dolphins, or how dolphins are classified:

River dolphin classification

Images for kids

River dolphin Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.