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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

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Cetaceans

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White-sided Dolphin
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Common Bottlenose Dolphin
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Dolphins & Porpoises


Atlantic White-sided Dolphin


Lagenorhynchus acutus






Comments to webmaster


Atlantic White-sided Dolphins Steve Mirick

The Dolphin most likely to be spotted on inshore trips in the Gulf of Maine is the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin. photo Steve Mirick.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin
A North Atlantic dolphin which ranges from North Carolina to Greenland on the western side and on the eastern side from France to north of Norway and Sweden. Can be found in shelf water as well as deeper water on the continental slope and the canyons in the slope. Off the coast of North America shows some seasonal migration south from the Gulf of Maine and a greater tendency to be in deeper water during the winter.

The Pacific White-sided Dolphin is a completely different species that belongs to the same genus.


Swims in pods of up to 50 animals.  Some individuals will jump completely out of the water. Breathes every 15-20 seconds.

Identification
The White-sided Dolphin has a short beak and the tall falcate dorsal fin is located in the center of the back. The back is black and the belly white as in most marine animals.

Most distinctive are the three sharply demarkated color stripes on the sides. The Atlantic White-sided Dolphin has a gray ribbon like strip that extends from in front of and above the eye to the tail (A).( The extension in front of the eye is washed out in this photo.) In the middle of the body the gray ribbon appears to be covered by the white patch (B). There is a dirty gold strip above the gray ribbon to the tail (C).

The white patch shows up clearly even at a distance. The white of the belly extends up onto the side about the flippers.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin colors labeled Steve Mirick

The gray ribbon shows up better in this photo by Dave Austin. Notice the gray starts in front of the eye and extends the length of the body.

In this picture the white stripe seems to blend with the gold/brown  strip toward the tail.

The Atlantic White-sided Dolphin is really a beautiful dolphin, but apparently hard to get photographs that really show all the stripes;

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin Dave Austin
Atlantic white-sided Dolphin Leonard Medlock

The bright white strip for which the Atlantic White-sided  Dolphin get its common name show up well in this picture of a dolphin that is completing a jump.  The dirty gold strip towards the tail appears dull brown.  Leonard Medlock photo

Separating the White-sided Dolphin from the Common Dolphin
Another dolphin you are likely to see on New England trips further off shore is the Common Dolphin. The Common Dolphin and the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin do not belong to the same genus, but the color patterns can be confusing. Read more about the Common Dolphin on the page devoted to that species. These two picture compare the two.

Common Dolphin John Slovic

Common Dolphin by John Slovic

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin Steve Mirick 

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin by Steve Mirick

Both dolphins have sharply demarked color strips on the sides. The Common Dolphin has a goldenébrown  strip from the eye to just under the dorsal fin. This is followed by a gray strip to the tail. Notice the face pattern and the way the black of the back dips low just under the dorsal fin forming an hour glass appearance. Jeff Slovin on the June 2010 BBC offshore pelagic. The Atlantic White-sided Dolphin has a gray ribbon shaped strip that runs from before the eye to the tail interrupted by the bright white patch and followed by a dirty gold stripe..

Range
Temperate North Atlantic from North Carolina to Greenland on the western side. On the eastern side ranged from France to norther of Norway and Sweden. Can be found in shelf water as well as deeper water on the continental slope and the canyons in the slope. Off the coast of North America shows some seasonal migration south from the Gulf of Maine and a greater tendency to be in deeper water during the winter.

Behavior
Avoids ships and does not ride the bow wave. Occassionally jumps clear of the water but does not spin.

Seen in small groups of in ofndividuals which sometimes come together in larger groups of hundreds of animals.

Food
Squid and a wide variety of fish including Hake and Herring. There was a dramatic increase in the number of Atlantic White-sided Dolphin in the Gulf of Maine during the 1970s and 1980s when there was a decline of herring and an increase in sand lance. ( Folkens 2002)

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    Comments to webmaster

Folkens, Peter (2002) Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Alfred A. Knopf New York

Kinze, Carl Charistian (2001) Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic Princeton University Press Princeton NJ