The Franciscana is one of the worlds smallest dolphins and can be found off of the east coast of South America. These bashful dolphins share many physical traits with river dolphins despite the fact that they are not closely related at all. There is currently not much information available on the population of the Franciscana however due to the Franciscana often being caught by fishermen which almost always results in death, the survival of this species needs to be considered.

franc1 Franciscana
A Franciscana in captivity
A Franciscana in captivity

The preferred habitat of the Franciscana is that of coastal waters and the most common catches and sightings occur just out from the coastal waters before the water reaches a depth of 30 meters.

If you are lucky enough to come across an Franciscana then it should be instaly recognizable by its bulging forehead and long snout, not to meantion the small size of the Franciscana. Generally a gray/brown color, the Franciscana’s dorsal fin is small but uniquely shaped like a triangle with a circle on top and the blowhole is crescent shaped. It isn’t the easiest task to identify sex however the females are usually larger than the males.

franc2 Franciscana
A tiny Franciscana
A tiny Franciscana

Although technically a ‘river dolphin’ the Franciscana inhabits salt water and is generally seen traveling in groups of up to 15, however if you are lucky there have been reported sightings of groups as large as 40 strong.  When it comes to hunting for food the Franciscana within a group work together to ‘herd’ the like of fish and squid for consumption, it is also thought that the Franciscana probes the sea bed to root out food.

The lifespan of the Franciscana in the wild is believed to be around 16 years with Franciscana reaching sexual maturity around the age of 3. After successful mating the female will give birth to usually just one young. The young Franciscana is believed to start eating solid food at around 3 months.

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