While the existence of two different forms of "Common dolphin" has been known for a long time, they have only recently
been granted the status of separate species:
Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Long-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus capensis)
The obvious most important difference between Delphinus delphis
and Delphinus capensis
is the length of the beak. Nonetheless, the two species are so similar that it can be extremely difficult to tell
them apart at sea.
All Common dolphins have a slender, highly streamlined body, which allow them to reach speeds of over 60 km/h.
They can be very active and acrobatic.
An invaluable key to identification is the typical criss-cross ("hourglass") pattern on both flanks, which affords
four well-defined areas coloured in yellow, light gray, dark gray and white on each side.
A dark "V" shape behind the dorsal fin is also very distinctive when the animals are seen from above.
The Short-beaked Common Dolphin is largely distributed, and prefers waters with surface temperatures above 10°C.
It can be observed in many offshore warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical waters, including the Mediterranean
and Red Sea.
It is now believed to be the only common dolphin species that inhabiting the waters of Australia and New Zealand.
Sadly, the Mediterranean population is rapidly declining; for more information we invite you to visit the web site of
ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area).
The Short-beaked common dolphin tends to form large groups, with many individuals surfacing at the same time while
It is sometimes seen in association with Bottlenose and Striped dolphins.
While mainly a fish-eater, it is also known to feed on cephalopods (e.g. squid).
When hunting the schooling fish, individuals within a group show a high degree of co-operation.
Entanglement in fishing nets represents a major threat for this dolphin, along with the active catch still
practised in various parts of the world.
Being quite selective as for its food sources, the Short-beaked common dolphin is less prone to adapt to habitat
changes than many other species, especially when the changes involve a decline in its favourite prey.