Report on Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis)

They used to be the most common dolphins in the Mediterranean, but today Delphinus delphis is among the less sighted dolphins off Tarifa. In the Bay of Gibraltar they still can be found regularly.

Position Gewöhnliche Delfine 1999–2015
Positions of Common Dolphins from 1999 to 2015

The number and probability of sightings of Common Dolphins increase towards September. The number of calves sighted also increases towards the end of the season, with most calves being born in May.

Schools of more than 30 animals are seen in the Bay fo Gibraltar, especially in the second half of summer, when flying fish gather in large shoals off Gibraltar and the Yebel Musa (Moses mountain, on the Moroccan side). In the Bay of Gibraltar in 2013 we could observe for the first time how tuna fish and Common Dolphins were hunting flying fish together.

Keydata from annual reports

2009

  • Very few sightings in the Strait of Gibraltar
  • A pod of about 300 animals stays in/at the Bay of Gibraltar

2010

  • Very few sightings in the Strait, only 3% of the total
  • Largest pod of 750 animals in October

2011

  • Very few sightings in the Strait, more frecuent in fall in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • Largest pod of 1000 animals at the Bay in October

2012

  • Very few sightings in the Strait, more frecuent in fall in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • Largest pod of 1000 animals in the Bay on September 5th
  • Only 38 sightings in total

2013

  • 82 sightings, 34 of them in the Bay of Gibraltar (more sightings than in the last years)
  • August/September: larger pods of up to 1000 dolphins in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • From September to November: hunting flying fish
  • Strait of Gibraltar: smaller pods of maximum 400 dolphins, with one exeption of 800 animals on May 2nd

2014

  • 43 sightings, 4 of them in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • Still among the less sighted cetaceans in the Strait
  • More common in the Bay of Gibraltar, where they hunt flying fish from September to November
  • Largest pod: 350 animals on July 17th
  • Other larger pods close to the end of summer as usual

2015

  • 52 sightings off Tarifa (no trips into the Bay of Gibraltar)
  • Largest pod of 320 animals on August 7th
  • All but two sightings of larger pods of more than 30 animals in the second half of the summer season

2016

  • 88 sightings off Tarifa (no trips into the Bay of Gibraltar)
  • Largest pod of 1000 animals on August 17th
  • All but five sightings of larger pods of more than 100 animals in the second half of the summer season

2017

  • 98 sightings, 27 of them in the Bay of Gibraltar, where firmm does its trips if the "Levante" wind is too strong off Tarifa
  • 71 sightings off Tarifa, with only 5 pods counting more than 200 dolphins
  • Largest pod: 1600 animals on August 23rd in the Bay of Gibraltar, where also the other larger 9 pods with more than 400 dolphins have been spotted during the second half of the summer season (from end of August to October)
  • Calves all along the season
  • No newborn detected (very difficult to spot inside a larger pod)

2018

  • 68 sightings
  • 8 of them in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • 60 sightings off Tarifa, with only 6 pods of more than 200 dolphins
  • Largest pod: 550 animals at Oktober 2nd in the Bay of Gibraltar
  • Other 3 larger pods of about 220 dolphins in the second half of the summer season from end of August to October
  • Calves throughout the whole season
  • No newborn detected (very difficult to detect inside larger pods)

For firmm reports sorted by years (in German) check out firmm-education.