Delphinus delphis - Common dolphin:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Cetacea / Delphinidae / Delphinus / Species
Alternative Names  
Description Summary: Small dolphin with long slender beak and hourglass pattern on flanks.(B142, D23).

Weight: --

Length: 2.1-2.4m / 6-7ft (D23).

External Appearance:

  • Adult:
  • Body slender torpedo-shape.
  • Beak: long, dark, separated from low receding forehead by chevron-shaped groove.
  • Teeth: 40-55 pairs small sharp-pointed conical teeth (3mm diameter).
  • Dorsal and upper flanks: black/brownish-black.
  • Flanks: marked with conspicuous hourglass pattern - cream or yellowish tan in front of dorsal fin, paler dark grey behind dorsal fin and may reach dorsal surface.
  • Chest and abdomen: creamy white.
  • Black lines base of beak to eye and middle of lower jaw to flipper.
  • Flippers: tapering, light grey/white.
  • Dorsal fin: central on back, slender, sickle-shape to erect., may be black (often with central grey spot) to white with dark border.
  • Tail flukes: black; distinct median notch
  • (B142)
Range and Habitat World:
  • Temperate and tropical seas, Black sea (B51)

Britain and Ireland:

  • Widely distributed, particularly western and southern waters, with smaller numbers in southern Irish Sea and North Sea.
  • (B142).


  • In UK area: most likely to be seen July to October - may be slight onshore movement during this period (B142)


  • Mainly offshore (B142).
Further Information Food:
  • Fish and squid.
  • Fish include: Micromesistius, Trisopterus, Merluccius, Trachurus, Sardinia, Engraulis and Merlangius spp.
  • Cephalopods include Loligo, Alloteuthis and Sepiola spp.
  • (B142).

Feeding Behaviour:

  • Members of a school appear to cooperate in food-herding (B142).


  • Gestation about 10-11 months.
  • Births mainly June to September.
  • Lactation about 19 months.
  • Calving interval 1-2 years.
  • (B142).


  • Commonly swim 15-24 km/hour, faster if alarmed.
  • Group members may show synchronised blowing and sounding.
  • Breaching and tail-smacking of water are common.
  • (B142).

Social Behaviour:

  • Generally groups of 10-20, sometimes larger, even hundreds.
  • Groups may be of mixed age and sex.
  • (B142).

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

Individual techniques:

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