Long-Beaked Common Dolphin, Delphinus capensis

The long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis) is a species within the Delphinus, or common dolphin, genus that can be found in a fragmented range within tropical and warm temperate habitats. Its range includes western and southern areas of Africa, central California and Mexico, coastal regions of Peru, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, a large portion of western South America.

The long-beaked common dolphin was not considered a distinct species until the 1990’s, along with all other species of common dolphin. Until the species were split, they were all classified under the D. delphis species name. Today, there are two recognized species in the Delphinus genus, known as the short-beaked common dolphin and the long-beaked common dolphin. Some experts assert that a third species, D. tropicalis, should be classified distinctly within this genus, but most consider it a variant of the long-beaked common dolphin.

The long-beaked common dolphin can reach an average body length between 6.2 and 8.2 feet with a weight between 180 and 520 pounds, although weights between 180 and 330 are more common. Males tend to grow longer and heavier than females, displaying a sexual dimorphism. The dorsal side of its body is dark or black in color, while the underbelly is typically white in color. The sides hold an hourglass marking that can vary between grey, black, or gold in color in the front and darker grey in the back. Its nose is longer and thinner than that of the short-beaked common dolphin.

As is typical with dolphin species, the long-beaked common dolphin is sociable and will gather in groups of up to thousands of individuals, although numbers in the hundreds are more common. They can be seen swimming alongside other species including baleen whales and pilot whales, and often swim alongside boats. This species can be seen conducting a number of aerial acrobatics after jumping out of the water. It consumes a number of fish and squid species that reside at depths of up to 660 feet.

After breeding, the long-beaked common dolphin has a pregnancy period between ten and eleven months. Baby dolphins are known as calves, and calves of this species are born with a length between 2.6 and 3.3 feet, with a weight of up to twenty-two pounds. Females typically do not breed again until one to three years after weaning a calf. Hybrids have been born in captivity between the long-beaked common dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin. One of these hybrids has been successfully bred back into its original form, showing that these hybrids could be possibly in the wild.

The long-beaked common dolphin is found on the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU) and on the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU). Because there is little information about this species, it appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Data Deficient.”

Image Caption: Dolphins in the en:Gulf of Oman. Credit: Philipp Weigell/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)