Pantropical Spotted Dolphin
Stenella attenuata 

Scientific Name: Stenella attenuata

Other Names: Spotted Dolphin, White-spotted Dolphin, Bridled Dolphin, Spotter, Spotted Porpoise, Slender-beaked Dolphin

Suborder: Odontoceti

Family: Delphinidae 

Generally this dolphin is medium sized with a slender, streamlined body. It is dark with a pale gray underside and medium gray sides covered with dark spots on the light areas and light spots on the dark areas.  It has a darker gray cape which dips low on the sides, a dark upper jaw with a band that extends to a dark patch around the eye and a dark band between the lower jaw and flippers. The flippers are small with strongly convex leading edges and pointed tips. The medium sized beak is long, narrow with a white tip and white lips and the dorsal fin is tall and falcate.

There are two main forms of Pantropical Spotted Dolphin: the coastal form and the off-shore form. The coastal form is larger, more robust, with a thicker beak and is the more spotted of the two.

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are highly surface active and acrobatic and often bow- and wake-ride. They often associate with other oceanic cetaceans and yellow-fin tuna.

Maximum Length
Male: 2.6m
Female: 2.4m
Calf: 0.8 - 0.85m

Maximum Weight
Male: 120kg

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin Ecology

Range:Tropical and warm temperate waters between 40°N and 40°S

Usual Habitat: Commonly occurs around islands, both off-shore and in-shore mainly in areas where the surface temperature is above 25°C

Usual group size: 10 - 20 with superpods of 1000s of individuals

Main Diet: Offshore populations are known to eat small fish, squid and crustaceans. Little is known about the diet of coastal populations but it may comprise of larger fish.

Local population: Unknown

Global range of the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin

Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are likely to be found in the dark blue areas.

Conservation Information

Protection and Conservation Status

IUCN Conservation Status: 
Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list.

SPAW Protocol:  Pantropical Spotted Dolphins are cetaceans, which are listed under Annex II of the SPAW protocol. As such they require total protection under article 11 of this protocol which prohibits the "taking, possession, killing and commercial trade of the species, their parts or products". The SPAW protocol was created to help with the implementation and promotion of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Annexes of the SPAW protocol can be found here.

Local Laws: Cetaceans are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife Act of Trinidad and Tobago which offers protection to all species not listed under the second or third schedules of this act. 

Reports of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins in Trinidad and Tobago

This is currently being researched and written. It will appear here shortly.


The above information was obtained from the following sources:

  • A Princeton Field Guide: Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett (2006)
  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises by Mark Carwardine and illustrated by Martin Camm (2002)
  • The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's Species Guide at
  • The IUCN Redlist at
  • The SPAW protocol Annexes with links available at,83

We would like to thank the following people for the use of the art work and photographs:

  • Alësha Naranjit (Illustration of Pantropical Spotted Dolphin)
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