Risso's dolphins are a deep diving species of dolphin occasionally seen around Madeira.

Risso’s Dolphins

Grampus griseus

Risso’s dolphins are a deep diving species that is infrequently observed on whale watching tours in Madeira. They are found throughout the worlds oceans and tend to prefer areas near continental shelves where the depths reach over 400 meters deep. Madeira is a volcanic island with deep ocean just a few kilometers from the coast. Their unique ‘scarred’ appearance is due to intense social interaction. They are born a medium grey color and minimal counter-shading, but use their teeth to rake each other during competitions within social groups. This leaves scars and gives the Risso’s dolphin its unique appearance.

Risso's dolphins are a deep water species of cetacean that is rarely seen around the island of Madeira.

Species Information

Risso's dolphins are found in deep water where they hunt for their favorite food, squid.
  • Length: up to 4 meters

  • Weight: up to 500 kg

  • Lifespan: up to 40 years

  • Diet: mostly squid, octopus, cuttlefish and small fish

Sightings of Risso's dolphins around the island of Madeira.


Risso’s dolphins are one of the more rare species of cetacean that we see around the island of Madeira. When we do see them they are typically in small groups and quite shy around the boats. We have observed Risso’s dolphins moving out of the area quickly when Pilot whales arrive. They do compete for the same food sources, perhaps the large resident population of Pilot whales around Madeira keeps the Risso’s dolphins away?