Scientific name

Delphinus delphis

Where does it get its name?

They received their common name because – you guessed it! – they are one of the most common and abundant dolphin species in the world!

Whale SENSE Region Found:


Protection status

Protected throughout its range

Where to watch:

They can be found in both coastal and offshore waters and also enclosed seas. *If they are spotted within a couple miles of the coast, it’s best to call your local stranding response organization.

What to watch for:

Dorsal fin: Relatively tall, triangular dorsal fin in the middle of their back.

Body: Short-beaked common dolphins have distinctive coloring with multiple color bands along their sides, which form an hourglass pattern.

Size: Length: around 6 feet, Weight: around 170 lbs (males are slightly larger than females)

Behavior: Short-beaked common dolphins are often active at the surface. These highly social, energetic dolphins commonly leap out of the water at high speeds, turn end-over-end, and somersault. They will also swim alongside ships and even large whales for long periods of time.

Associations: Short-beaked dolphins are usually found in large social groups averaging hundreds of individuals and are occasionally seen in larger herds—known as mega-pods—consisting of thousands of animals (up to at least 10,000).

May be confused with: Long-beaked common dolphins, spinner dolphins, striped dolphins


They feed primarily on mackerel, herring and other schooling fish, but will also occasionally eat squid. Short-beaked common dolphins are also known to be cooperative feeders, working with pod mates to drive prey into an easily accessible ‘bait-ball.’

Mating and Calving

On average, males become sexually mature at 10 years and females at 8 years. Every 2 to 3 years, adult females give birth to a single calf that is about 2.5 to 3 feet long after a 10-11 month gestation period. Calves begin to wean after about 1 year, but remain dependent for another year or more.

Photo: WDC

Did you know?

  • Short-beaked common dolphins are closely related to—and easily confused with—long-beaked common dolphins. Once thought to be a single species, the two species differ slightly in size, appearance, and habitat preference.

What do short-beaked common dolphins sound like?

Clip provided by NOAA Fisheries

Threats to Short-beaked common dolphins

Learn more about Short-beaked common dolphins