Cetaceans that stretch the definitions of names (top) and those that don't (bottom). Top left: the Risso's dolphin, despite being quite large and lacking a beak; Top right, a Sowerby's beaked whale, a whale despite having a beak. Bottom left: a spinner dolphin; bottom right: humpback whales. Photo credit: Endlessocean.fandom.com; Pierre Jaquet via Flickr; NationalGeographic.com; Tony Wu, NPL.
Whale, Dolphin, Porpoise: what do these words mean?
*This beautiful porpoise stranded on the Otago Peninsula while I was in the Fordyce lab - but it was September 2014 and I was in the throes of Ph.D. writing, and desperately attempting to complete my Ph.D. thesis before January 10, my arbitrarily set deadline (which I made). I naturally had to decline the invitation, as necropsies followed by detailed dissections (this is R.E. Fordyce we're talking about; detail is everything) eat up several consecutive days.
Is the Eocene archaeocete Ambulocetus a whale, dolphin, or porpoise? Artwork by Carl Buell.