The Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) is a dolphin that is native to the Atlantic Ocean. It was once known as the short-snouted spinner dolphin. Although its range is not fully understood, specifically the southern portions, it does prefer tropical and temperate waters. Its range begins in New Jersey, stretching east-south-east to southern Morocco, and it is thought that the southern area of its range beings near Angola and stretches to Rio de Janeiro. It prefers habitats within deep water, and has been seen many times in the Gulf of Mexico, but it does not occur in the Mediterranean Sea.
John Grey first described the Clymene dolphin in 1850, when it was classified as a subspecies of the Spinner dolphin. However, in 1981, Perrin et al. reassessed the dolphin’s classification and it was discovered that it was actually a distinct species. The long wait for the species to become its own status was mostly due to its close association and appearance to the spinner dolphin. Both species will travel together and from the shore, it is nearly impossible to distinguish between them. Close up, it is possible to see that the Clymene dolphin has a shorter nose and a less rigid, triangular dorsal fin.
The Clymene dolphin is grey in appearance, but can be described as being Neapolitan in color. Its underbelly is light pinkish white in color, while the back is dark grey. In between these contrasting colors, running from each eye down the sides extending to the tailstock, is a line of light grey. This dolphin can grow to be an average of six to seven feet in length, with an average weight of up to 176.3 pounds.
Although little is known about the reproduction and lifespan of the Clymene dolphins, it is known that they are an active species, which most likely prefer to eat squid and small fish. The can form schools of up to 500 individuals. Although the do spin vertically when jumping out of the water, it is thought they are not as acrobatic as the spinner dolphin. The have been known to swim alongside boats.
Because of a lack of information about the Clymene dolphin, the IUCN has been unable to grant it a conservation status. Exact threats are unknown, although some individuals have been killed in fisheries in the Caribbean, as well as off the coast of West Africa in fishing nets. The population in West Africa has been listed in Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) because it is thought to be threatened. It is also protected by the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU).
Image Caption: Clymene dolphins. Credit: Keith Mullin (NOAA)/Wikipedia