Dusky Dolphin
Lagenorhynchus obscurus

Other Names: Fitzroy's Dolphin

Habitat: Inshore

Status: Locally common

Population: Unknown

Threats: Entanglement in fishing nets and hunting/whaling

Group Size: 6-15, largest gatherings in summer

Fin Position: Center

Newborns: 22-28 in (55-70 cm), 7-11 lb (3-5 kg)

Adults: 5 ¼-7 ft (1.6-2.1 m), 110-200 lb (50-90 kg)

Diet: Fish and squid or octopus

Teeth: 48-72 on both top and bottom row


Dorsal fin:

- dark leading edge
- gray trailing edge may be dark
- tall, falcate dorsal fin
- crescent of light gray on rear half


- distinctly concave trailing edges
- distinct, narrow notch in middle
- pointed tips


- long, pointed flippers
- darkened edges
- flippers darker than surround body area
- curved leading edges


- short, dark beak
- gently sloping forehead
- small, dark patch around each eye

Other characteristics:

- predominately dark gray or blue-black upper side
- white or pale gray blazes along sides
- small, compact body
- white underside


- highly inquisitive and usually easy to approach; seems to enjoy contract with boats and people
- readily bow-rides
- as with several oceanic dolphins, breaches in 3 main ways; performs arc-shaped leaps with clean, headfirst entries, which may be used to look for feeding seabirds; slams body against surface, then lobtails, to signal location of fish to other dolphins or to herd fish into center of school; and does high somersaults and twists and turns, which are most common after feeding
- may leap dozens of times in a row, and often when one animals starts, others follow suit


- coastal temperate waters of New Zealand, southern Africa, and South America
- widespread in southern hemisphere, but distribution probably not continuous: the 2 main populations seem to be geographically isolated
- occurs around New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, Auckland Islands, and Campbell Islands; southern Africa; and South America, including the Falkland Islands
- it is an infrequent visitor south of Valparaíso, Chile, and south of Peninsula Valdés, Argentina (though it is frequent at Valdés itself
- also occurs around Kerguelen Island, in the southern Indian Ocean
- some unconfirmed reports of individuals off the coast of Australia
- mainly coastal, or found over the continental shelf
- some inshore-offshore movements with seasons and times of day
- fairly abundant throughout range

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet