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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Common Dolphin
Order Cetacea : Family Delphinidae : Delphinus delphis Linnaeus

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis).  Illustration by Pieter A. Folkens.Description. This is a small, slender dolphin with a long, well defined beak. Average length is 2.1 m with a maximum of about 2.6 m. Weight may be up to 135 kg. Coloration is distinctive. The back is brownish-gray to black and the belly is white. A crisscross, or "hourglass" pattern of light gray, yellow, or tan bands occurs on the sides and a black stripe extends from the lower jaw to the flipper. The rostrum is black with a white tip and the eyes are set in a black, circular patch from which black lines run forward to the base of the snout. Although varying in extent between individuals, the black dorsal coloration extends down the sides below the dorsal fin giving the impression of a saddle.

Distribution in Texas. Worldwide in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters. Known in Texas on the basis of a single animal that stranded at Galveston.

Habits. These are highly social, deep water dolphins; groups contain 20 to several hundred members but huge concentrations numbering into the hundreds of thousands have been observed. They commonly travel above submarine ridges where they dive to feed on squid and fishes including lantern fish, anchovies, and hake.

Breeding appears to have seasonal peaks in spring and fall. The period of gestation is 10-11 months. Newborns are about a meter long and sexual maturity is reached at approximately 3 years of age.

Illustration credit: Pieter A. Folkens.