Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Delphinus delphis

Physical Description

  • Rounded forehead, 40-57 pairs of small, sharp teeth in beak
  • Weight 170 pounds
  • Length 6 feet
  • Males slightly larger than females
  • Relatively large, triangular dorsal fin on back
  • Dark gray on back and forming V on sides, with yellowish tan side panels 
  • A narrow dark stripe runs from the lower jaw to the flipper


  • Cosmopolitan distribution
  • Washington down south to coast of Chile
  • East Coast of Canada to Florida
  • North Pacific north of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tasmania, Southeast Asia
  • All throughout Europe and North Africa, eastern Africa


  • Preferring warm tropical to cool temperate waters
  • Primarily oceanic and offshore waters
  • Often in association with underwater ridges, seamounts, and continental shelves where cold, nutrient-dense bottom water is upwelling


  • Squid, small schooling fish
  • They often swim with schools of tuna and flocks of seabirds


  • Common Dolphins’ natural predators are larger sharks, like bull sharks and Great Whites
  • Common dolphins are hunted for meat and oil in Russia, Japan, and countries around the Black Sea and Mediterrannean Sea

Interesting Facts

  • Common dolphins are called common because they are some of the most abundant marine mammals on earth
  • They are sometimes found swimming in pods of over 3000 individuals
  • They are very active at the surface, somersaulting and leaping out of the water

Sources: Voices in the Sea; NOAA Fisheries;

Photo: Thomas A. Blackman

To hear a common dolphin’s call and see videos of them swimming, visit Voices in the Sea, a collaboration between the Pacific Life Foundation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

Want to see common dolphins in person? Go whale watching with Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises! Common dolphins are almost always spotted on the tours!

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