Volunteer with Common Dolphins

Facts about Common Dolphins

Common Dolphins are very social animals, often traveling in pods of more than 1000!  They enjoy riding the bow waves of boats and are known for their energetic leaps out of the water.

Fast Facts
Scientific name:
Delphinus delphis
Range:Warm tropical to cool temperate waters
Length:2-2.7 m
Lifespan:35-40 yrs
Reproduction:Give birth to one calf every 3 yrs
Diet:Fish, krill, squid
Predators:Sharks, Orcas, Man
IUCN Conservation status:Least concern

Common Dolphin identification

There are two species of Common Dolphin; the Long-Beaked Common Dolphin and the Short-Beaked Common Dolphin.

Both species are relatively small in comparison to other dolphins.  They have a moderately long beak, a tall, falcate dorsal fin and moderately large, tapered flippers.  The upper parts of the body are dark grey to black and the belly is white.  A bold dark stripe connects the flippers to the upper jaw.

Common Dolphin Photo Credit:shutterstock Dominic Laniewicz

Common Dolphins. Photo credit: Dominic Laniewicz, Shutterstock

Common Dolphin adaptations

Common Dolphins are keen bow riders and are active on the ocean surface. They can dive to at least 200m and hold their breath for up to eight minutes to catch prey.

Where do Common Dolphins live? 

Common Dolphins can be found in warm tropical to cool temperate waters.  The Short-Beaked Common Dolphin lives along the continental shelf and pelagic waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

How big are Common Dolphins?

Common Dolphins are relatively small dolphins; the Long-Beaked Common Dolphin grows to around 2-2.5m in length and weighs 80-235kg, whereas the  Short-Beaked Common Dolphin grow to about 2.7m and weighs around 200kg.

How long do Common Dolphins live?

The Long-Beaked Common Dolphin lives up to 40 years  and the  Short-Beaked Common Dolphin lives for around 35 years.

What do Common Dolphins eat?

The diet of the Common Dolphin consists mainly of schooling fish as well as squid and krill.

What eats Common Dolphins?

Shark and Orca are natural predators of Common Dolphin.

Common Dolphin life cycle and reproduction

Male Common Dolphin become sexually mature at 3-12 years, females at 2-7.  Breeding takes place between June and September and is followed by a 10-11 month gestation period. Calves are weaned at four months.  The calving interval is one to three years.

Are Common Dolphins endangered and if so why?

The Short-Beaked Common Dolphin is listed as a species of Least Concern by the World Conservation Union (IUCN, meaning that it is not currently at risk of extinction.  The Long-Beaked Common Dolphin is listed as Data Deficient.

Human activities threaten Common Dolphins and they are one of the most prominent bycatches of pelagic purse-seine, driftnet and trawl fisheries.  Overfishing of the Common Dolphin prey species and degradation of their habitat also pose a threat.

Click here to see how you can work as a marine conservation volunteer with Common Dolphins!