Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

The Common Dolphin is one of the smallest and also fastest dolphins: it can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h.

What do we know about the Common Dolphins in the Strait of Gibraltar?

In the Strait of Gibraltar we often see Common Dolphins in mixed schools with Striped Dolphins. However, due to their characteristic colouration, Common Dolphins are easy to identify, even though they normally keep their distance from our boats.

As the name "Common" Dolphin implies, this species was once very common. Unfortunately, the population in the Mediterranean is now severely endangered, which is due to the intensive human use of the coastal regions. These regions are preferred especially by mothers and juveniles, because here they are safe from sharks. But these are also the regions where fishing is most intense, ships navigate and sewage is discharged into the sea.

The Common Dolphins are particularly endangered by the human use of the coastal regions.

In order to ensure the survival of the Common Dolphins in the Mediterranean, we would have to better protect the coasts in particular. But also the catch of mackerel and sardines (Common Dolphins’ favourite food) should be restricted. Drift nets and purse seines are a particular danger - on the one hand they deprive the animals of their food, on the other hand countless dolphins drown as a result of these fishing methods. Although drift nets have been banned by the European riparian states, they are still used illegally by fishermen. You can find out more about our insights in the research report on the Common Dolphin.

Facts worth knowing

  • dark cape
  • hourglass pattern on sides (yellowish at the front, grey at the back)
  • white belly
  • crescent shaped to triangular fin (often with a lighter triangular spot in the middle)
  • slightly notched fluke with curved trailing edge and pointed tips
Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Suborder: Odontoceti (toothed whales)
Family: Delphinidae (dolphins)
Size: 1.7–2.3 m, 135 kg
Size at birth: 0.8–1 m
Life expectancy: 35–40 years
Sexual maturity: from 3–12 years
Reproduction: every 1–2 years
Gestation period: 11 months
Nursing period: 6–18 months
Food: fish and squid; 10 kg/day
Speed: approx. 65 km/h
Diving time/depth: up to 8 min/approx. 100–200 m

Interesting stories about Common Dolphins in our blog

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