Friday 17 May
Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Short-beaked common dolphin fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Short-beaked common dolphin description
The short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is the commonest dolphin species (1), but exact numbers are unknown (3). It is easily identified owing to the obvious 'hourglass' pattern on the flanks, which creates a dark V-shape below the dorsal fin (1). Considerable variation in colours and patterns exists within this species (3), and in 1994 a new species, the long-beaked common dolphin was recognised, based on both anatomical and genetic differences (1).
- Dauphin Commun.
- Delfín Común.
Short-beaked common dolphin biology
These fast-swimming dolphins are highly active (1), often leaping clear of the water (breaching), and slapping their flippers on the water surface (lobtailing) (3). The short-beaked common dolphin occurs in large groups (3) of between 10 and 500 individuals (1), the size of group depending on both the time of day and year (3). The approach of these groups can be detected from miles away (1), and some noises made by this species can be heard from above the surface of the water (3). They feed on small fish and cephalopods such as squid (1), and are known to use co-operative methods of hunting (4). They make short dives typically of between 10 seconds and 2 minutes, but dives lasting for as long as 8 minutes have been recorded (3).Top
Short-beaked common dolphin range
Occurs in all tropical, subtropical and warm temperate seas (5). The short-beaked common dolphin is common, with a wide distribution in the eastern north Atlantic Ocean. Around the UK it is abundant in the western approaches to the English Channel, west of Ireland, in the southern Irish Sea and in the vicinity of the Inner Hebrides, reaching as far north as Skye (2).Top
Short-beaked common dolphin habitatTop
Short-beaked common dolphin status
The short-beaked common dolphin is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). Listed on Annex IV of the EC Habitats Directive; North and Baltic Sea, western Mediterranean, Black Sea and eastern tropical Pacific populations are listed under Appendix II of the Bonn Convention, and Appendix II of the Bern Convention (7). All cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are listed on Annex A of EU Council Regulation 338/97; they are therefore treated by the EU as if they are included in CITES Appendix I, so that commercial trade is prohibited. In the UK all cetaceans are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985 (2).Top
Short-beaked common dolphin threats
Known threats to the short-beaked common dolphin include entanglement in fishing nets, human disturbance, noise and chemical pollution, lack of food and hunting (3).Top
Short-beaked common dolphin conservation
A UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, the short-beaked common dolphin is protected in UK waters by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Orders, 1985; it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or harass any cetacean (whale or dolphin) species in UK waters (2). The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) has been signed by 7 European Countries, this includes the UK. Provision is made under this agreement to set up protected areas, promote research and monitoring, pollution control and increase public awareness (2).Top
Find out more
For more on the short-beaked common dolphin:
The WDCS species guide:
For more on whales and dolphins and their conservation:
The WDCS homepage:
Information authenticated by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society:
- From the Greek for 'head-foot', a class of molluscs that occur only in marine habitats. All species have grasping tentacles, and either an internal or external shell. Includes nautiloids, cuttlefish, squids, octopuses, and extinct ammonites and belemnites.
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
- Cawardine, M., Hoyt, E., Fordyce, R. E., & Gill, P. (1998) Whales and Dolphins, the ultimate guide to marine mammals. Harper Collins Publishers, London.
Bern Convention (10/10/02)
WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society). (24/6/02)
- MacDonald, D. (2001) The new encyclopedia of mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Cawardine, M. (1995) Whales, dolphins and porpoises. Dorling Kindersley, London.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.