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a blurry image of a fish

Short-beaked common dolphin
(Delphinus delphis)

Elegant species that is among the fastest cetaceans with individuals reaching speeds of up to 60 km/h. Common dolphins live in schools of 10 to several thousand individuals.

Listen the dolphin below:

General information

Further names: Portuguese: Golfinho-comum-de-bico-curto

Size of adults: 1.8 – 2.6 m

Prey: Small schooling fish and squids.

Behaviour: Fast, agile swimmers that bow-ride and enjoy leaping high at the surface.

Range: Globally present in warm temperate to tropical waters, usually preferring offshore regions. In some areas they occur all year round but many populations migrate with the seasons and can be encountered in different regions depending on the time of the year. 

Madeira: Seasonal species, most abundant in winter and spring.

Distinctive features: Slender, streamlined body with a characteristic hourglass pattern on their flanks. The colour ranges from white, grey and yellow to black on their flanks and dorsal side with a white belly.. There is a dark V-shaped marking under the dorsal fin and many individuals have a white spot on the side of the dorsal fin. Characteristic markings vary widely. Peculiarity: They have several small teeth, up to 120 in one jaw.

Taxonomy: Suborder: Odontoceti (Toothed whales), Family: Delphinidae (Dolphins)

Threats: Populations in the Mediterranean are critically endangered. Threatened world-wide by illegal drift nets and being caught as bycatch. Like other marine creatures they also suffer from the chemical pollution of the oceans, particularly micro plastic and heavy metals.