Short-beaked Common Dolphin

(Delphinus delphis)
Two Short-beaked Common Dolphins Santa Barbara Channel
Short-beaked Common Dolphin Pair - Photo Credit: Bob Perry

The short-beaked common dolphin is a common sighting when out on our whale and dolphin watching cruises. According to researchers, there are more short-beaked common dolphins in the temperate waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean's waters than any other dolphin species, so your chances of seeing one are definitely high.

The short-beaked common dolphin is a little smaller than the bottlenose dolphin, which is more popular in modern culture. The medium-sized short-beaked common dolphin typically grows to between five and eight feet. These dolphins show some sexual dimorphism, with males and females looking a little different, as males tend to be longer and weigh more than females.

You might find that the coloration of the short-beaked common dolphin is a little unique. Their backs are dark, while the belly is white in color. There is a roughly hourglass-shaped pattern on their sides that tends to be gold, yellow, or light grey in color. The juveniles have a more muted color pattern, but they will become more characteristic in their color pattern as they get older. In addition, they have 50 to 60 teeth that are sharp and interlocking.

Short-beaked common dolphins eat seafood that tends to live in more shallow waters, only getting to about 660 feet deep. They feed on fish such as herring, anchovies, and sardines, usually eating around 20 pounds per dolphin each day. The dolphins that live in more oceanic regions rather than coastal areas tend to eat more squid.

Like other dolphins, the short-beaked common dolphin is a social animal and tends to live in large groups, sometimes with thousands of animals. They have even been found living with other dolphin and even whale species, such as the pilot whale and baleen whales. They sometimes perform a behavior known as bow riding on boats and large whales. When watching these dolphins, you may see them perform acrobatic behaviors that dolphins are known for, as well as breaching behaviors. These fast swimmers also take care of their own: other members of the group will help them swim and keep them afloat, helping the sick ones to survive.