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Common dolphin

Common dolphin

Delphinus delphis delphis

Common dolphin
2 m
80-100 kg
Coastal, pelagic
Fishes, squids, crustaceans
Sighting frequency
By-catch, prey depletion
Conservation status
Conservation status

The common dolphin has a tapered body and is characterized by its rapid, graceful swimming. At first glance, it may resemble the similarly-sized striped dolphin, but it is distinguished by the hourglass pattern on its side that is a distinctive yellow ochre color toward the front. It generally dives for no more than two minutes and feeds mainly on fish, although it will also eat cephalopods and crustaceans.

Individuals living in coastal zones mainly hunt anchovies and sardines near the surface, attracting many birds to the area.



As its name suggests, this species was once very abundant in the Mediterranean. For reasons that are still not entirely clear, it suffered a rapid and dramatic decline several decades ago to the point that today it survives only in a few areas. Common dolphins are present in both coastal and pelagic environments, depending on the area. They live in groups of varying sizes, the smallest of which generally consists of around ten animals and is typically found in coastal environments. In the Pelagos Sanctuary they are very rarely encountered, mostly having been sighted in mixed groups with striped dolphins. It is assumed that hybrids between the two species also exist.

  • Common dolphin

How to recognise species and distinguish individuals

From the white patch in the center of the dorsal fin and the nicks and notches on its posterior margin

  • Common dolphin

They are very rarely encountered in the Pelagos Sanctuary and are mostly sighted together with striped dolphins

Did you know that…

Common dolphins are less long-lived than other larger dolphins, living just over twenty years. Females can give birth at about seven years of age, after a gestation period of 10-11 months. Newborns are no longer than 90 cm and are nursed for about 10 months. Throughout this period, and for many months beyond, the young remain closely associated with their mothers.

  • Common dolphin