Common Dolphin

(Delphinus capensis)



  • to a maximum of 2.5 m


  • 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

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



  • have only been seen a couple of times in B.C. waters, one individual was seen in Puget Sound in 2017.
  • 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.