The Humpback Dolphin is a member of the genus Sousa. These dolphins are characterized by the conspicuous humps and elongated dorsal fins found on the back of adult members of the species. They are found close to shore along the coast of West Africa (Atlantic species/variety) and right along the coast of the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia (Indo-Pacific species/varieties).
By the mid-2000s most authorities (see e.g. ,,) accepted just two species—the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific. However, in his widely used systematic account (), Rice identified three species, viewing the Indo-Pacific as two species named simply the Indian and Pacific. The dividing line between the two (sub)species is taken to be Sumatra, one of the Indonesian islands; however, intermixing is thought to be inevitable.
Further, in , Australian cetologist Graham Ross writes "However, recent morphological studies, somewhat supported equivocally by genetic analyses, indicate that there is a single, variable species for which the name S. chinensis has priority".
Humpback Dolphins found in Chinese waters are locally known as Chinese White Dolphins. See that article for specific issues relating to that subspecies which corresponds to the Pacific Humpback Dolphin in Rice's classification.