Common Dolphin
Delphinus delphis

Other Names: Saddleback Dolphin, White-bellied Porpoise, Criss-cross Dolphin, Hourglass Dolphin, Cape Dolphin

Habitat: Offshore and occasionally inshore

Status: Common

Population: Unknown

Threats: Entanglement in fishing nets, hunting/whaling, pollution, and habitat destruction

Group Size: 10-500, largest groups in eastern tropical Pacific

Fin Position: Center

Newborns: 32-35 in (80-90 cm), Unknown weight

Adults: 5 -8 ft (1.7-2.4 m), 155-245 lbs. (70-110 kg)

Diet: Fish and squid or octopus

Teeth: 80-120 teeth on both top and bottom rows


Dorsal fin:

- tall, with pointed tip
- concave trailing edge
- ranges from strongly falcate to nearly triangular and from black to mostly grayish white
- gray or black border
- pale gray center
- triangular dorsal fin, mostly white or pale gray with dark border (Baja Neritic form)


- slight notch in middle
- concave trailing edges
- pointed tips
- flukes gray or black on both sides
- pale gray flukes (Baja Neritic form)


- convex leading edges
- broad, black or gray flippers
- slightly pointed tips


- dark circle around each eye
- prominent beak
- gray or black beak may be white-tipped
- short, slightly stubbier beak (short-beaked form)
- long, slender beak (long-beaked form)
- distinct crease between beak and smoothly sloping forehead
- complex coloration on head

Other characteristics:

- tan or yellowish patch on both sides
- gray, black, purplish black, or brownish cape, with V shape under dorsal fin
- criss-cross or hourglass pattern on sides
- slender, streamlined body
- slender, pale gray tail stock
- white or creamy white undersides, extends higher up sides than in most other dolphins
- 1 or 2 broken yellow or gray lines interrupt white underside
- dark streak from flipper to middle of lower jaw


- often found in large, active schools: jumping and splashing can be seen and even heard from a considerable distance
- several members of a group often surface together
- school size often varies seasonally and according to the time of day
- animals bunch tightly together when frightened
- fast swimmer and energetic acrobat
- frequently porpoises, slaps water with chin, flipper-slaps, lobtails, bow-rides, and breaches (sometimes turning somersaults)
- highly vocal: its high-pitched squealing can sometimes be heard above the surface
- dives can last up to 8 minutes, but usually 10 seconds to 2 minutes
- may associated with other dolphins at good feeding grounds and, in the eastern tropical Pacific, with Yellowfin Tuna


- warm temperate, subtropical, and tropical waters worldwide
- widely distributed, though appear to be many different populations
- found in many enclosed waters such as the Red Sea and the Mediterranean
- may be less common in the Indian Ocean
- Present all year round in some areas, but may populations appear to move seasonally and show local peaks of abundance at different times of year
- usually found where surface temperature is 50-82 F (10-28 C), limiting distribution to north and south of range, but may follow warm water currents beyond the normal range
- less commonly seen in water shallower than 590 ft (180 m) - occurs over the continental shelf, particularly in areas with high sea floor relief, but mainly offshore
- this species varies so much in appearance that more than 20 species have been proposed, but only a single species, with 2 distinct forms, are recognized: short-beaked form and long-beaked form
- there is some evidence of population declines in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the eastern tropical Pacific, but it is still one of the most abundant of all cetaceans, probably numbered in the millions

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet