Dolphin Resource Collection

Learn more about the intelligent mammals that inhabit our ocean, the problems they face, and their importance in the marine ecosystem. Read to explore NOAA’s efforts to protect dolphin populations and how national marine sanctuaries benefit dolphins.

Two common dolphins zip across the surface of the ocean.


Dolphins are at the top of the food chain and play an important role in the overall balance of the marine environment. They belong to a group of marine mammals called cetaceans (si-tay-shn). Marine mammals in the cetacean family include whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Dolphins tend to be social and live in groups. They exhibit complex methods of communication and echolocation making squeaks, buzzes, whistles, and clicks that can be heard from miles away.

Five Hawaiian spinner dolphins swim in the warm blue waters off the Island of Hawai`i.

Lesson Plans and Activities

Utilize these interactive lesson plans and activities with students to learn and gain a better understanding of dolphins, as well as the key role they play in the marine ecosystem.

Two Pacific white-sided dolphins play in the water. One jumps completely out of the water.


The National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series provides general information, research findings, education materials, and empowers all audiences to protect marine resources. Enjoy this assortment of kelp forest oriented recorded webinars that offer a unique perspective from scientists, divers, researchers, and others on the topic.

A dolphin swims near the ocean floor that is covered in algae.


Want to encounter dolphins from the comfort of your own home? Dive into the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ video collection of various dolphin and porpoise species from across the country and learn about entanglements, endangered species, and how we can protect dolphins.

A dolphin with a dark gray back and white belly jumps completely out of the water upside down.

Species Spotlight

Have a favorite dolphin species or want to learn more about rare dolphins you may have never heard of? Check out the Species Spotlight Section for resources on every type of dolphin!

Passengers aboard a whale watching vessel stand along the rail watching dolphins frolicking in the ocean.

Web Stories

Many of our underwater parks are home to a variety of dolphin species with scientists eagerly working to learn more about them to ensure they are further protected. Read up on the various work being conducted to protect dolphins from oil spills, scientific research, and more.

Graphic of the guidelines for wildlife viewing

Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

Encountering dolphins in the wild can be a once-in-a lifetime opportunity! For their safety as well as yours, please follow these guidelines: give wildlife plenty of space, be aware of local regulations and use your zoom lens or binoculars if you want that close-up view!

A small seal lays on the sand with its eyes closed.

NOAA Marine Mammal Resource Collection

Marine mammals are found in marine ecosystems around the globe. Marine mammals are classified into four different taxonomic groups: cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), and marine fissipeds (polar bears and sea otters). Check out NOAA’s Marine Mammal Resource Collection to learn more about all marine mammals and for further dolphin related resources.

A dolphin jumps completely out of the water facing away from the viewer off the coast of Maui.

Additional Materials

Do you want even more information on these special species? Look here for more information on dolphin species and the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ role in preserving dolphins and their natural habitats.