Atlantic spotted dolphin

Stenella frontalis
Atlantic spotted dolphin
Atlantic spotted dolphin
Atlantic spotted dolphin - Mother and calf - Photo: Rebecca Walker
Atlantic spotted dolphin - Photo: Ruth Coxon

Appearance

Size: max 2-2.3m

Key features:
- White tip on beak
- Spots on the body of adults

Atlantic spotted dolphins look like bottlenose dolphins from a distance. It is a medium sized dolphin with a chunky beak and a very distinctive crease between the beak and the melon. They have a white tip to their beak and can also have white lips too. In colouration Atlantic spotted dolphins have a dark cape, light grey sides and a white belly. Atlantic spotted dolphin calves don’t have spots. Adults have spotted patterns across their body and they increase in number with age.


Behaviour

They are fast swimmers and very active at the surface often breaching. They are typically attracted to ships to bow ride and can be observed in small and large numbers. They are often found in mixed groups with the bottlenose dolphin.

Distribution

As its name suggests this species of dolphin is only found in temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean from southern Brazil to the United States in the west and to the coast of Africa in the east. This species is mainly found on the continental shelf edge but is also known to inhabit deep oceanic waters around oceanic island like the Azores.

Threats

The major threats for Atlantic spotted dolphins include entanglement in fishing gear, marine pollution and overfishing of their prey.

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