SPECIES SUMMARY PAGE

Lagenorhynchus albirostris - White-beaked dolphin:

Click Illustration for full-page view Image linked directly from RSPCA - Stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises - 10.A Guide to Identifying Cetacean species most commonly stranded in the UK
Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Cetacea / Delphinidae / Lagenorhynchus / Species
Alternative Names  
Description Large, stout dolphin, with short often white beak, large centrally placed dorsal fin, often erect, sickle-shaped, black back but with pale grey/white area from behind dorsal fin to flanks and pale grey/white saddle (oblique blaze) on flank in front of dorsal fin. (B142, D23).

Weight:

  • About 180kg (B142).

Length:

  • 2.5-2.7m / 8-9ft (D23)
  • Females about 2.5-2.7m; males slightly larger (B142).
  • Neonate: Length about 120cm (B142)

External Appearance:

  • Body: very stout torpedo shape.
  • Head: rounded snout, short white/pale grey beak. May be dark flecks behind eyes. May be dark grey stripe from angle of mouth to flipper insertion.
  • Teeth: small (about 6mm diameter), sharp-pointed, 22-28 pairs per jaw.
  • Dorsal: dark grey/black, with area caudal to dorsal fin pale grey/white. Often Blaze, dark grey to white, from near dorsal surface caudal to eye across flanks and downwards to anal region.
  • Flippers: broad based with pointed tip, dark colour.
  • Dorsal fin: central along back, tall sickle shape, more erect in adult males.
  • Tail: has very thick stock, with tail flukes dark, slightly notched and concave trailing edge.
  • (B142).

Similar species: Lagenorhynchus acutus - Atlantic white-sided dolphin lacks pale grey/white area on dorsal surface behind dorsal fin (B142).

Range and Habitat World: Northern North Atlantic and Atlantic Arctic. Central west Greenland, Greenland Sea and southern Barents Sea southwards to Newfoundland, Cape Cod, south-western Ireland.

Britain and Ireland:

  • Common, mainly in North Sea, north and north-western Scotland and southwards towards south-western Britain and Ireland.
  • Less pelagic than Lagenorhynchus acutus - Atlantic white sided dolphin and appears to be more abundant in coastal waters.

(B51, B142).

Movement:

  • Britain and Ireland: may be seen all months but more in August and other summer months - may be inshore movement (B142).

Habitat:

  • Cold-temperate and polar waters (B51).
Further Information Food:
  • Fish - Clupea, Gadus, Scomber, Merlangius, Trisopterus, Melanogrammus, Pleuronectes, Limanda, Eleginus and Hyperoplus spp.
  • Squid, octopus, benthic crustaceans.

(B142)

Feeding Behaviour:

  • Co-operative herding to bunch shoals tightly and trap them at water surface (B142).

Breeding:

  • Births late spring to summer (May to August).
  • Gestation probably about 10 months.
  • (B142).

Breeding Behaviour: --

Activity:

  • Swim moderately fast
  • Often bow-ride
  • Frequently breach out of water
  • (B142).

Social Behaviour:

  • Usually in groups of up to 10 individuals.
  • Sometimes herds of 30-50.
  • Occasionally larger herds e.g. 100-500 individuals.
  • Mixed-age, mixed-sex groups
  • (B142).

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

Individual techniques:

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