Dolphin symbolism represents playfulness, intelligence, and freedom. Dolphins play throughout the ocean and have meaning all over the world.

What Does a Dolphin Symbolize?

Happy and Playful Spirit

Dolphins embody a happy and playful spirit. Whenever you see a dolphin, they are happy to see you. Their faces look like natural smiles, and they are often jumping out of the water and doing fun flips and tricks.

What Does a Dolphin Symbolize?

Strong Willpower to Overcome Obstacles

If you are facing a challenge in life, seeing a dolphin could be a reminder that you have the ability to overcome obstacles. It could also be an encouragement to strengthen your willpower. Dolphins have it tough, as they are toward the bottom of the food chain in the ocean. 

Sense of Virtue

Dolphins are more virtuous than most humans and are known to be able to sense virtue in humans. It is even suspected that dolphins will not approach a human they sense is bad.

While dolphins aren’t the first animal that comes to mind when you think of virtue, compared to other animals in the ocean, they are quite virtuous. Dolphins only kill when they need to eat and care for their young until adulthood.

Humor and Laughter

Dolphins are funny creatures. They look a little weird, act a little funny, and even swim a little weird. If you can keep a smile off your face as you watch a dolphin, you are unique, and this is why they are known to symbolize humor and laughter.


Dolphins live in pods or teams their entire life. If you see a dolphin on its own, it is likely sick or lost. Because dolphins aren’t ever seen alone, they are a well-established symbol of teamwork.


Dolphins are the ultimate symbol of freedom or liberation. Those feeling trapped and coming across a dolphin should know that it is time to let go of whatever it is that is causing them to feel trapped, whether it is a job or a relationship. Also, remember to embrace the feeling of freedom when you have it.

Intelligence and High Mental Acuity

Dolphins are known for their intelligence and how easy they are to train. Chances are, you’ve even seen a dolphin show or two where the dolphins listen and react to humans. As such, dolphins are known as a symbol of intelligence.

Being Polite and Courteous to Others

Dolphins are kind animals known throughout history as being courteous and for saving sailors from storms. The savior reputation has lingered, leading many to believe that dolphins symbolize a need to be polite, especially if they are your totem animal.

Spiritual Meanings of Dolphin Symbolism in Different Cultures

West Coast Native Americans

West Coast tribes believed that dolphins were once human beings who had passed on and chosen to become a dolphins to continue to help lead their tribe even in death. Some stories claim that warriors who chose to become dolphins willingly gave up their lives to do so.

East Coast Native American Culture

Tribes on the East Coast saw dolphins as a sign of reincarnation and rebirth. It was considered bad luck to eat a dolphin, as they were the guardians of the sea.

Inuit Tribes

The Inuit tribes in Alaska were more familiar with porpoises than dolphins but used the same name for them interchangeably. In their stories, dolphins were playful protectors of the oceans.

Chumash Tribe

One tribe, specifically the Chumash, believed eating dolphins was okay because the dolphins willingly gave their lives to feed people when it was necessary. It was also believed that dolphins carried the souls of those who didn’t make it to the next life.

South American Tribes

The natives in South America, unlike their northern neighbors, feared dolphins as they believed them to be tricksters and gods who could change shape. They still revered the dolphin for its intelligence, but they didn’t get too close either.

Amazonian Tribes

In the Amazon region in South America, the tribes believed in pink dolphins, which could turn into humans for the purpose of joining human parties and seducing women. These shapeshifters were known as the Boto and were thought to be the fathers of all the children born out of wedlock.

Celtic Culture

In Celtic culture, the dolphin was known as the guardian of the sea, and spotting one meant a new beginning or healing was right around the corner. It could also be a sign of good luck in the years to come.

African Culture

In Africa, the tribe that spoke the most of dolphins was the Zulu, and they believed the dolphins were a race of humans that had started humankind before returning to their dolphin forms and returning to the sea. As a result, they viewed them as spiritual guides.

Ancient Egypt

Dolphins appear in ancient Egyptian arts and texts and are thought to have represented freedom. While gods in Egypt typically had animal heads, there isn’t one with a dolphin therefore, it is assumed that while Egyptians appreciated dolphins, they didn’t see them as gods.

Ancient China

In China, dolphins were known to save humans and represented fair weather and safe sailing conditions. Ancient Chinese people also saw dolphins as a positive message from their ancestors, and harming a dolphin was considered bad luck.

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