The Haviside's Dolphin is a fairly small dolphin, growing up to about 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) in length and weighing up to 75 kg. Their size and the bluntness of their heads leads these dolphins to often be mistaken for porpoises. The head is coloured a dark grey. The front half of the upper side and the flanks are a much lighter grey.Thedorsal fin, fluke and back half of the back are again a darker grey colour. The underbelly is white and there are flashes of white on the flanks below the dorsal fin.
Males reach sexual maturity at about 7–9 years. Females reach breeding age at the same time. The gestation period is probably 10 months. Mating occurs in Spring and Summer. It is believed that females calf on average once every three years. The maximum known age of a Haviside's Dolphin is 20 years. This relatively short life span, coupled with the long calving period, causes a naturally low population growth rate. Therefore the species is particularly sensitive to being hunted.
Haviside's Dolphins are active and social animals. They typically congregate in groups of about 5–10 in number but sometimes in larger groups. They are able to swim fast. Part of their play and social activity is to jump vertically clear of the water, turn in the air, and fall back into the sea with virtually no splashing or noise.

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Both common dolphin species are medium sized dolphins. Adults range between 1.9 and 2.5metres (6.2 and 8.2 ft), long, and can weigh between 80 and 235 kilograms (180 and 520 lb), although a range between 80 and 150 kilograms (180 and 330 lb) is more common. Males are generally longer and heavier.The color pattern on the body is unusual. The back is dark and the belly is white, while on each side is an hourglass pattern colored light grey, yellow or gold in front and dirty grey in back.They have long, thin rostrums with up to 50–60 small, sharp, interlocking teeth on each side of each jaw. Common dolphins have a varied diet consisting of many species of fish and squid.

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The dusky dolphin is small to medium in length compared with other species in the family. There is significant variation in size among the different population areas. The largest dusky dolphins have been encountered off the coast of Peru, where they are up to 210 cm (6 feet) in length and 100 kg (210 pounds) in mass. The size for dusky dolphins in New Zealand have been recorded to be a length range of 167–178 cm and a weight range of 69–78 kg for females and a length range of 165–175 cm and a weigh range of 70–85 kg for males.
There is almost no sexual dimorphism in this species, although males have more curved dorsal fins with broader bases and greater surface areas. The back of the dolphin is dark grey or black, and the dorsal fin is distinctively two-toned—the leading edge matches the back in color, but the trailing edge is a much lighter greyish white. Dusky dolphins have a long, light grey patch on their foreside leading to a short, dark grey beak. The throat and belly are white, and the beak and lower jaw are dark grey. There are two blazes of white color running back on the body from the dorsal fin to the tail. Right between the white areas remains a characteristic thorn-shaped patch of dark colour, by which the species can easily be recognized. Aside from that, dusky dolphins may be confused with other members of their genus when observed at sea. It can be distinguished from the common dolphins, which have a more prominent and longer beak and yellow flank markings. The skull of a dusky dolphin has a longer and narrower rostrum than that of a hourglass dolphin or Peale's dolphin of similar age and size.

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