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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Other Sea Life

Dolphins & Porpoise

White-sided Dolphin
Common Dolphin
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Risso's Dolphin
Spotted Dolphin
Striped Dolphin
Harbor Porpoise


Dolphins & Porpoises

Common Dolphin

Delphinus delphis

Comments to webmaster

Pod of Common Dolphin

photo by Chris Cicconi

The Common Dolphin has a distinct beak. The color pattern on the side of the body is a figure "8" with the front loop tan and the rear loop gray. The back is black with the belly white. The black point directly below the dorsal fin gives the dolphin a saddle appearance and it is sometimes called the Saddle-backed Dolphin.

There is a black strip from the eye across the near edge of the beak.

The dorsal fin is tall and sometimes shows a whitish area in the center. Not seen in this photo. See front two dolphin in the photo at the top of the page. Common Dolphin photographed on June 28 BBC Pelagic to Atlantis Canyon by Jeff Slovin

Common Dolphin  Jeff Slovin
Common Dolphin face Jeff Slovin

Common Dolphin photographed on BBC Pelagic to Atlantis Canyon by Jeff Slovin clearly shows the strip from the eye across the top of the beak.

On the right another Common Dolphin by Jeremiah Trimble.  Notice that dolphins have a single blow hole like the Toothed Whales.  It always looks like dolphins are having fun, but really living is serious business. Beautiful picture Jeremiah.  Thanks for sharing.

Common Dolphin Jeremiah Trimble
Common Dolphin leap from water Scott Spangenberg

Common  Dolphin leaping from the water.  Dolphins and whales swim by moving their tail up and down.  Fish and sharks move their body from side to side.

Competitive swimmers use a kick like this when swimming butterfly or backstroke  underwater after a start. or turn. No wonder they call it the "dolphin kick".  Scott Spangenberg

Common Dolphin bow riding Emmalee Tarry

Common Dolphins like to bow ride a boat as this one is doing.  Picture was taken thru the water by Emmalee Tarry.  Notice the gray point on the side which gives the saddle appearance.  This was probably noticed by the sailors who probably enjoyed watching the dolphins as much as we do today.  When the dolphins hitch  a ride like this they do not have to exert energy to swim,. Not all dolphins bow ride like the Common. Boat operators know how to drive the boat at the proper speed to encourage the dolphins to bow ride.

Common Dolphins feed at night and often seem to be playing in large groups during the day time. They can dive to 289 meters and remain submerged 8 minutes. (Kinze 2001)

In North America, occurs along the east coast from Florida to Newfoundland . It is predominately a coastal species. In our area we usually do not see it on Stellwagen Bank but futher outside in deeper waters.

Occurs in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

There is also a Long-beaked Common Dolphin which in the Atlantic is further south along the east coast of South America. The color pattern is somewhat different from that of the Short-beaked Common Dolphin and it lacks the hour glass and saddle configuration..

Common Dolphin eat schooling fish(anchovies, lanternfish, hake, deep-sea smelt) and cephalopods (squid). They feed primarily at night to capitalize on the nighttime vertical migration of food.

Other Sea Life | Cetaceans  | White-sided | Common| Bottlenose | Risso's |Spotted & Striped | Harbor Porpoise  | Top of Page    

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