|The Mammals of Texas -
Cetacea : Family Delphinidae : Stenella
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
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