Cryptid Profile: Rhinoceros Dolphin
In 1820, off the coast of the Sandwich Islands and New South Wales, Jean Rene’ Constant Quoy (zoologist and anatomist) and Joseph Paul Gaimard (naturalist) spotted what appeared to be a never before seen species of dolphin. Quoy and Gaimard chose to name this new aquatic mammal the “Rhinoceros Dolphin”, its scientific name being Delphinus rhinoceros. In total, 9 Rhinoceros Dolphins were seen swimming together in a pod in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Rhinoceros Dolphin is described as being larger (described as 9ft long and around 250lbs) than a normal dolphin and is black with large white spots or blotches covering its skin. It has two dorsal fins on its body, one curved fin near its head and one on its back, although it is placed farther back than the normal position of a dolphins dorsal fin. It’s pectoral fins looked to also be on the larger side. The dolphins appeared to show no fear of the ship and approached it willingly, almost touching the bow.
There have been many explanations for what the Rhinoceros Dolphin actually is throughout the years. Theories range from misidentification of an already scientifically known dolphin with a deformity, to two dolphins (a mother and calf) swimming side by side giving the appearance of one larger creature (proposed by French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier). Another theory states that the Rhinoceros Dolphin may have been a normal dolphin with a remora (a suckerfish) attached to its head (proposed by American marine biologist Richard Ellis). The final theory is that the Rhinoceros Dolphin is actually a species of beaked whale known as Blainville’s beaked whale. Males of this species of whale are known to have two horn like bumps protruding from its head. But all of these theories do not take into consideration that Quoy and Gaimard reported seeing 9 separate dolphins with two distinct dorsal fins on their bodies.
Since the initial sighting/discovery, the Rhinoceros Dolphin has not been seen again. This leads many to speculate that the species has either gone extinct, or the population has dwindled to numbers low enough that another human sighting will be almost unheard of when you take into consideration the size of the world’s oceans.
- The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google