La Plata dolphin

The La Plata dolphin or Franciscana - Toninha (Pontoporia blainvillei) is one of the smallest dolphin species with a maximum body length of 1.70 m and a body weight of 45 kg. In Brazil it is called Toninha. It has a gray-brown coloration, with the back usually slightly darker than the belly. The head is very round and the beak is exceptionally slender and long. Relative to body length, this is the longest beak of any dolphin species. The fin is triangular with a rounded tip and well developed compared to other river dolphin species. The flippers are extremely broad.

Although belonging to the river dolphins, the La Plata dolphin is a predominantly marine species. Its range is restricted to the coastal areas of Atlantic waters of South America from Espirito Santo, Brazil to the Valdez Peninsula, Argentina. The animals prefer shallow coastal waters and are rarely seen in water depths greater than 20 meters.

Behaviorally, La Plata dolphins are rather shy and inconspicuous and lack the acrobatic jumps typical of many dolphin species. They live in small groups of up to five animals, but are usually seen only as individuals. The gestation period is about 10 to 11 months. The calves are born mainly in the months from November to January and then suckled by the mother for about 9 months. La Plata dolphins often swim lying on their backs or sides. This behavior has also been observed in other river dolphins and is associated with the echolocation behavior of the animals. Due to the direction of emission of echolocation clicks (dorso-frontal) and the dolphins' search for food, this swimming position is extremely useful for detecting prey on the ocean or river bottom.


Since the La Plata Dolphin - Franciscana - Toninha(Pontoporia blainvillei) lives predominantly near the coast, it is particularly sensitive to anthropogenic influences. Increasing pollution of the waters by toxic chemicals and the regional fishing industry have greatly reduced the population in recent decades. Coastal fishing and the resulting high number of bycatch victims are of particular concern. Overfishing of its prey fish has already driven the La Plata dolphin from some areas of its original range.

Franciscana Consortium

Consorcio Franciscana Delfin Toninha Golfinho

Meanwhile, the Franciscana dolphin - Toninha is the most endangered dolphin species in South America.

You can specifically help us protect the La Plata dolphin here.

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