Common Name: Spotted Dolphin
General Description: Pan-tropical spotted dolphins has a beak that is moderately long, and a tall, falcate dorsal fin which is centrally placed.
Newborn dolphins are unspotted with a dark grey back with soft edges and a light belly. Adult dolphins are grey overall, darker above and on the upper flanks, and lighter on the belly and lower flanks. The body is usually spotted, with white spots above and dark spots below. The spotting varies with age and geographical distribution.
There is a distinct dark grey cape, from the head to the dorsal fin. A black circle around the eye extends to the junction of the beak and the melon, and a broad black stripe runs from the origin of the flipper to the corner of the mouth. Due the presence of a distinct bridle it is also known as the Bridled dolphin.
Coastal forms are generally larger and more heavily spotted than those which live offshore.
Size: Adults, around 2 m long, weigh around 110 kg.Calves at birth, 90cm long.
Appearance At Sea: Spotted dolphin schools vary from a few individuals to thousands. There appears to be no segregation based on age or sex. Individual dolphins regularly come to the bows of vessels in the ocean.
Spotted Dolphins often throw themselves out of the water, high into the air.
They school with spinner dolphins and striped dolphins. And are seen often with tuna. Incidental by catch of spotted dolphins is common in southwest of India, mostly in purse-seine tuna nets.
Found In: Spotted dolphins are found in tropical oceans with warm surface temperatures, both in coastal and offshore regions. They are surface feeders, feeding on various species of fish and squid.
Records from India: Common along peninsular India, mainly close to the shelf edge and also reported from Lakshadweep and Andaman Nicobar archipelago.
World Distribution: These dolphins are widely distributed in tropical and some warm temperate waters around the world.
Could Be Confused With: Even at a distance the spotting on the dolphins is usually evident, making it easy to identify the species. They are sometimes confused with other Stenella.
Diagnostic Features: At sea, the unique facial markings (presence of a marked bridle), uniform dark cape on the dorsal side, and presence of a dark flipper line help in identifying the species.
Stranded Specimens: Freshly beached spotted dolphins can be identified by their markings alone. Spotted Dolphins have 35-40 tiny pointed teeth on each side of both slender jaws.