Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Delphinus delphis


Scientific Name: Delphinus delphis

Other Names: Atlantic Dolphin, Pacific Dolphin, Saddle-backed Dolphin, Short-beaked Saddleback Dolphin

Suborder: Odontoceti

Family: Delphinidae


The Short-beaked Common Dolphin is stocky with a broad, dark cape which dips into a V-shape just below the dorsal fin; an ochre (though sometimes pale) thorasic panel and grey colouration on the tailstock which forms a distinctive horizontal hourglass pattern. The dorsal fin is tall, triangular and dark sometimes with a lighter patch in the center.

Unlike the Long-beaked Common Dolphin which is very similar, the Short-beaked Common Dolphin has a shorter (but still moderately long) beak, more rounded melon and although it does have dark eye-flipper stipes it does not have an eye-vent stripe.

They are very gregarious and vocal, often porpoising, breaching and bowriding. They can be seen in mixed-species groups, often associating with Long-beaked Common Dolphins in some areas.

Maximum Length
Male: 1.7 - 2 m
Female: 1.6 - 1.9m
Calf: 1 - 7 m

Maximum Weight
Adult: 70 - 110 kg (up to 235 kg reported)
Calf: 10 kg

Short-beaked Common Dolphin Ecology

Range: Tropical and cool temparate waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

Usual Habitat: In both shallow and deep waters, on-shore and off-shore.

Usual group size: 10 - 30 individuals. Can aggregate in the 1000s.

Main Diet: Small fish, squid and krill

Local population: Unknown 


 Global range of the Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Short-beaked Common Dolphins are likely to be found in the dark blue areas

 Conservation Information 

Protection and Conservation Status

IUCN Conservation Status: 
Short-beaked Common Dolphins are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list.

SPAW Protocol:  Short-beaked Common 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 False Killer Whale in Trinidad and Tobago
There are currently no reports of this species in Trinidad and Tobago.

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:

  • Al√ęsha Naranjit (Illustration of Short-beaked Common Dolphin)
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