White-beaked Dolphin

Dolphin jumping out the water showing belly
Dolphin jumping out the water showing belly

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Head and beak
Head and beak

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Distribution map
Distribution map

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Dolphin jumping out the water showing belly
Dolphin jumping out the water showing belly

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Taxonomy

Scientific name: Lagenorhynchus albirostris.
Order: Artiodactyla.
Family: Delphinidae. 
Genus: Lagenorhynchus.

 

IUCN Status

Least concern

 

Other names

White-nosed dolphin.
White-beaked porpoise.

 

Appearance

A large dolphin that is dark grey to black in colour, with lighter grey and white strips on their upper flanks from above the eye to the tail stock, and a pale grey saddle. White-beaked dolphins have dark flippers which are broad and pointed, and have a tall, dark sickle shaped dorsal fin. Males can grow up to 3.1 meters and females can grow up to 2.8 meters.

 

Habitat and distribution

It is estimated that there are about 100,000 white-beaked dolphins in the ocean. They are found in both cold and temperate waters in the north Atlantic Ocean. A resident population of white-beaked dolphins has been seen in Lyme Bay, and MARINElife is actively involved in surveying these dolphins.

 

Behaviour

White-beaked dolphins are fast and powerful swimmers and have been seen breaching and bow riding in the wake of boats. They are normally seen in pods of 5 to 50 dolphins but have been sighted in pods of up to 1,500. White-beaked dolphins have been sighted mixing with other species such as Atlantic white-sided dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales and fin whales.

 

Confusion with other species

Atlantic white-sided dolphin: slenderer in appearance and have white on their flanks and yellow/mustard colouration on their tail stocks.

 

Threats

White-beaked dolphins are threatened by entanglement in fishing gear and being caught as bycatch. They have been hunted for their meat in the past in Norway, Faroe Islands and Greenland.