From yin and yang symbols to Oreo cookies, black and white is the most classic of combos. And no ocean animal better embodies this than the beautiful, but elusive, southern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii).

These dolphins live in the cool waters around Antarctica and the southern parts of Africa, Australia and South America. Along with their classy color scheme, southern right whale dolphins are also notable for being the only dolphins in the Southern Hemisphere without a dorsal fin.

The giant right whale also lacks a dorsal fin, which is where their tinier cousins get their somewhat confusing common name.

southern right whale dolphin
A dolphin with a classy color scheme. Credit: Pablo Caceres Contreras

Southern right whale dolphins are built for speed. When going full-steam ahead, they zip in and out of the waves so effortlessly that they barely make a splash. While they’re not particularly shy — they often surf a boat’s bow wave — the fact that they prefer deep, cold water means that it’s hard to spot or study them.

Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony / Side by side on the Antarctic seaboard. Credit: World Register of Marine Species/Encyclopedia of Life

These speedsters can congregate in huge groups of up to 1,000 individuals, though they usually prefer to travel with about 50 buddies and family members.

Proving that they have an impeccable sense of style, southern right whale dolphins are often sighted travelling with hourglass dolphins, who share a similar eye-popping coloration.
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