Common Dolphin

(Delphinus capensis)

Identification

Size

  • to a maximum of 2.5 m

Colour

  • unique criss-cross pattern of yellow, white, grey and black bands
  • dorsal surface, beak and fins are black

Dorsal fin

  • small, highly pointed and black

 

Blow

  • small and bushy

Surface behaviour

  • very acrobatic; high leaps, porpoising and breaching are common

 

Group size / social behaviour

  • social, usually in groups of 20-30 animals but may occur in large schools of hundreds or thousands

Other characteristics

  • thin, pointed beak

Can be confused with

  • Pacific white-sided dolphins – but yellow coloration and thin pointed beak are the biggest differences

Notes

  • have only been seen a couple of times in B.C. waters
  • two species of common dolphins occur in the North Pacific Ocean: the long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis) and the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). These are very difficult to distinguish from each other in the wild.