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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Clymene Dolphin
Order Cetacea : Family Delphinidae : Stenella clymene (Gray)

Clymene Dolphin (Stenella clymene).  Illustration by Pieter A. Folkens.Description. This is a small dolphin that averages about 1.8 m in length and 75 kg in weight. It can be distinguished by its moderately short beak; triparite color pattern (white belly, light gray sides, dark cape that dips in two points - above the eye and below the dorsal fin); and distinctive facial markings (black eye ring, dark lips and snout tip, and dark line on top of snout, sometimes incorporating a "moustache" near the apex of the melon). The cape is sometimes obscured by blotchy patches on the sides and, occasionally, a faint spinal blaze may be present. The dorsal fin is gray but bordered with dark margins. Average total number of teeth is 200.

Distribution in Texas. Found only in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Known in Texas from four strandings, including three recent strandings along Padre and Mustang Islands.

Habits. This dolphin was not described as a distinct species until 1981 and is rarely observed alive. Consequently, it is one of the most poorly known dolphins of the world.

Stenella clymene has been observed at sea only in deep water. These dolphins eat small fishes and squid and appear to feed at night or in mid-water depths. Squid remains found in their stomachs are of species that characteristically live at intermediate depths and surface at night.

These dolphins may leap and spin out of water but their movements are not so high or complex as those of the spinner dolphin, S. longirostris. Stranding records from the Gulf of Mexico indicate that they are probably year-round residents of this region.

The Clymene dolphin is not found outside of Atlantic waters, an unusual distribution for a tropically distributed cetacean. This dolphin may possibly have evolved in the Atlantic.

Illustration credit: Pieter A. Folkens.