- Small marine mammals, weighing an average of 170 pounds with length just under 6 feet
- Rounded forehead and 40-57 pairs of small, sharp teeth in beak
- Body is sleek and aerodynamic with a relatively large, triangular dorsal fin on back
- Dark gray coloration on back, forming V on sides, with yellowish tan side panels
- A narrow dark stripe runs from the lower jaw to the flipper
- Males slightly larger than females
- Cosmopolitan distribution
- Washington down south to coast of Chile in Pacific
- East Coast of Canada to Florida in Atlantic
- Found in North Pacific north of Hawaii, New Zealand, Tasmania, Southeast Asia
- All throughout Europe and North Africa, eastern Africa
- Prefer warm tropical to cool temperate waters
- Primarily found in oceanic and offshore waters
- Often in association with underwater ridges, seamounts, and continental shelves where cold, nutrient-dense bottom water is upwelling
- Males become sexually mature at 10 and females at 8 years old
- Off the California coast, calves are born in winter after a 10-11 month gestation period
- In the eastern tropical Pacific, calves are born year-round
- Every 2-3 years, an adult female will give birth to a baby that is 2.5 to 3 feet long
- Calves nurse for about a year, and are dependent on their mothers for another year or more
- 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 Mediterannean Sea
- 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; Dive-The-World.com
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.