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.
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.
- Species listed under the EPBC Act - threatened and listed migratory species
- Whales and dolphins in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
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).
|Sei whale||Bryde's whale|
|Pygmy right whale||Blue whale|
|Antarctic minke whale||Humpback whale|
|Dwarf minke whale (subspecies)||Fin whale|
|Southern right whale|
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.
Some behaviour you may see
Breach - The whale leaps out of the water, often turning to land on its back side or front.
The whale breathes out as it surfaces, blowing a cloud of vapour through it's blowhole.