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Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Delphinus delphis

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Although not as well known as similar species, the Short-Beaked Common Dolphin is the one most likely to be seen in Oregon waters. Their appearance is highly distinctive and has made them a favorite subject of artists going as far back as the ancient Minoans. The animal is light gray along its back but has a V-shaped swath of color starting just below the dorsal fin. A band of pale yellow extends toward the eye with a white ventral patch underneath. This gives the dolphin a beautiful tri-color look which becomes brighter as the animal matures.

Like all dolphins and porpoises, the Short-Beaked Common Dolphin shares a genetic and natural history with much larger whale species like Orcas, Grays and Humpbacks. It‘s one of the smaller species in Oregon waters, with a typical adult measuring about 9 feet (2.7 m) in length and calves being born at about 3 feet (0.9 m). A highly social animal, these dolphins often congregate in large pods, sometimes numbering in the thousands.

The Long-Beaked Common Dolphin is another species of the common dolphin.

Range and Habitat

The dolphin prefers tropical and cool temperate waters along the continental shelf and in the open ocean. It is common in the waters off California, Oregon and Washington.

Conservation Status

Common. All whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.