Long-beaked Common Dolphin

(Delphinus capensis)
Long-beaked Common Dolphin Cow and Calf

Long-beaked Common Dolphin Cow and Calf  - Photo Credit: Bob Perry

The long-beaked common dolphin is less common than its relative, the short-beaked common dolphin, but you will still have the chance of seeing this magnificent animal in the waters off of the coast of California. They have a restricted range compared to some other dolphins, and they tend to live in coastal areas with warmer waters. They are generally found in the Pacific Ocean between central California and central Mexico, although they are sometimes identified as far to the north as Vancouver Island.

This dolphin species belongs to the common dolphin family, and they are a medium-sized dolphin, similar in size to the short-beaked common dolphin and smaller than the bottlenose dolphin. The adults are usually between 170 and 500 pounds and grow to between 6 and 8 feet long, although they are usually a petite 200 to 300 pounds.

Long-beaked common dolphins are sexually dimorphic animals, with males growing to be longer and heavier than females most of the time. Both sexes have a similar color pattern though, with a dark back and a white belly. They also have an hourglass pattern on their sides that is grey on the back and lighter in color in the front, usually grey or yellow. Interestingly, these dolphins have more teeth than any other dolphin species.

These dolphins tend to feed on small schooling fish, which includes anchovies, mackerels, and croaker. They may also eat smaller sized cephalopods, including squid and octopi. They will also occasionally eat small crustaceans.

The long-beaked common dolphin is a very social animal and is usually found in large groups. These so-called "super-pods" can be quite large, causing the dolphins to split off into smaller groups for a few hours at a time to go feed because it is rare to find a population of fish that can support them. To feed, they can dive up to 900 feet and hold their breath for several minutes.

The long-beaked common dolphin does not do well in captivity, so they are a less common sight than some other dolphins in aquariums. In the wild, they can be found with other dolphins on occasion. While you are out on the water, keep your eyes peeled for breaching behavior, acrobats above the water's surface, and bow riding.