Striped dolphin

Stenella coeruleoalba
Striped dolphin
Striped dolphin - Photo: G Overington
Striped dolphin and calf
Striped dolphin - Biscay 2016
Striped dolphin and calf
Striped dolphin - Photo: Ztam photography
Striped dolphin - Pearl II, Gibralta 2016

Appearance

Size: max 1.8-2.7m

Key features:
- Light grey blaze pattern on flank
- Black line from eye to tail stock
- White underside
- Dark grey back and dorsal fin

Striped dolphins are a similar size and shape to common dolphins and are commonly seen together in a pod. However, visually there are a few obvious differences. Striped dolphins have a characteristic striped pattern on their sides. A distinctive dark stripe runs from their eye to their tail stock, another from their eye to their flippers. They also have a pale grey blaze that sweeps up towards the dorsal fin.


Behaviour

They are highly energetic, fast and acrobatic, often leaping clear of the water all together. They travel in tightly packed groups, usually of 25 individuals, however groups of up to 200 have been spotted. They often avoid ships, unless in a pod with common dolphins, and like to play in the wake of the ship. They are also regularly seen with feeding fin whales.

Distribution

Striped dolphins can be found worldwide, in tropical and temperate waters. It is believed that there are geographically semi-isolated populations across the world. It is one of the most abundant dolphin species in the European Atlantic and seen more frequently offshore.

Threats

The striped dolphin is subject to similar threats to the common dolphin, including entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, collisions with vessels, decrease in available prey and habitat degradation. In some areas, particularly in Japan, the striped dolphin is subject to hunting. In the 1990's, over 1000 dolphins died in the Mediterranean Sea from a disease, morbillivirus, which could have been triggered by pollution and lack of available prey.

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