Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

loading
Short-beaked common dolphins breaching
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Short-beaked common dolphin fact file

Short-beaked common dolphin description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCetartiodactyla
FamilyDelphinidae
GenusDelphinus (8)

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).

French
Dauphin Commun.
Spanish
Delfín Común.
Size
Female length: 1.5 m (1)
Male length: 1.7-2.2 m (1)
Top

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).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

See this species on Google Earth.

Top

Short-beaked common dolphin habitat

Prefers waters that have a surface temperature higher than ten degrees Celcius (4). The short-beaked common dolphin is less commonly seen in water shallower than 180 metres (6).

Top

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 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).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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 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).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
To help conserve this species by working in the field with Earthwatch, click here.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
Top

Find out more

For more on the short-beaked common dolphin:

The WDCS species guide:
http://www.wdcs.org/dan/publishing.nsf/allweb/503E9B4FA640C889802568F8004F3820

For more on whales and dolphins and their conservation:

 The WDCS homepage:
http://www.wdcs.org/

Top

Authentication

Information authenticated by WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society:
http://www.wdcs.org

Top

Glossary

Cephalopods
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.
Cetacean
A whale, dolphin or porpoise.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Cawardine, M., Hoyt, E., Fordyce, R. E., & Gill, P. (1998) Whales and Dolphins, the ultimate guide to marine mammals. Harper Collins Publishers, London.
  3. Bern Convention (10/10/02)
    http://www.ecnc.nl/doc/europe/legislat/bernconv.html
  4. UKBAP (24/6/02)
    http://www.ukbap.org.uk/asp/UKPlans.asp?UKListID=337
  5. WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society). (24/6/02)
    http://www.wdcs.org/dan/publishing.nsf/allweb/503E9B4FA640C889802568F8004F3820
  6. MacDonald, D. (2001) The new encyclopedia of mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Cetacea.org. (26/6/02)
    http://www.cetacea.org/common.htm
  8. Cawardine, M. (1995) Whales, dolphins and porpoises. Dorling Kindersley, London.
X
Close

Image credit

Short-beaked common dolphins breaching  
Short-beaked common dolphins breaching

© Sea Life Surveys / SplashdownDirect.com

SplashdownDirect
1 Glen Cottages
Sandy Lane
Abbots Leigh
Bristol
BS8 3SE
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1275 375 520
Fax: +44 (0) 705 061 3938
tom@splashdowndirect.com
http://www.splashdowndirect.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS