This Is The Biggest Dolphin Ever Caught On Camera

There aren't many things more spectacular in life than watching dolphins interact with their environment. Either in the wild or in captivity, few animals capture the imagination quite like the uniquely smart cetaceans. An aquatic mammal like seals and whales, dolphins get their oxygen by breathing air when surfacing — a divergence from fish, which are able to pull oxygen that's dissolved in water (via Whale & Dolphin Conservation). And because they are still mammals, dolphins give birth to young that are alive, unlike fish that lay eggs.

According to Whale & Dolphin Conservation, there are about 42 different species of dolphin, with the Maui dolphin being the smallest on record at an average of 5 feet in length and 105 pounds in weight (via Whale Facts). As for the largest dolphin species, well, that may just surprise you. Because, believe it or not, killer whales are considered part of the dolphin family. Known as orcas — and less formally "killer whales," despite not being classified as such— their physical appearance is more in line with the dolphin family (via Ocean Conservancy). But while orcas generally grow to about 30 feet in length, the average blue whale can grow up to 105 feet long (via National Geographic).

Killer whales are dolphins too

In the wild, most male orcas grow to around 30 feet long, with female orcas averaging about 17 feet in length. However, the largest male killer whale ever recorded measured over 32 feet long and weighed in at a massive 22,000 pounds (via Sea World). According to Guinness World Records, this weight is nearly the equivalent of two full-size male African elephants.

The record for the largest dolphinfish ever caught was a mahi-mahi off the coast of Costa Rica in 1976, weighing in at 87 pounds (via ABC News). But mahi-mahi are not technically dolphins, despite their common name (via PrepScholar). This makes the killer whale known as Tilikum the largest dolphin caught and held in captivity, weighing in at 12,500 pounds and measuring over 22 feet long (via peta2). Tragically, Tilikum lived out most of his life in a tank in SeaWorld that only measured 35 feet deep, per the 2013 documentary "Blackfish." This is a stark contrast to the depths of 1,000 feet that orcas found in the wild are able to dive. Tilikum spent 33 years in captivity before passing away in 2017 from a likely bacterial infection (via CNN).