STRIPED DOLPHIN Stenella coeruleoalba

Status

MMPA - Striped dolphins, like all marine mammals, are protected under the MMPA - The Marine Mamal Protection Act

 

 

Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Family: Delphinidae

Genus: Stenella

Species: coeruleoalba

 

Species Description

Striped dolphins are some of the most abundant and

widespread dolphins in the world. These dolphins can reach

lengths of about 9 ft (2.7 m) and weigh up to 350 lbs (160 kg)

for males and 8 ft (2.4 m) and 330 lbs (150 kg) for females.

They have a small to medium-sized robust, sleek body with

a long, defined beak and round "melon" (forehead).

The "dorsal" fin is "falcate", tall, and located mid-back.

Their distinct and striking coloration pattern with a complex

of bold thin stripes that extend from the eye to the flipper and

another set of stripes down the side of the body to the anal

region distinguishes it from other cetacean species, and is the origin of its common name. The beak, tapered flipper, tail, and back, or cape, are dark blue/gray. The area just above the side stripe is bluish or light gray and creates a contrasting shoulder blaze that curves back and up toward the animal's dorsal fin. The ventral side is white to pinkish, and much lighter than the rest of the body. Calves and juveniles may have more muted colorations and patterns.

Striped dolphins are usually found in tight, cohesive groups averaging between 25 and 100 individuals, but have been occasionally seen in larger groups of up to several hundred and even thousands of animals. Within these schools there is a complex system of individuals that may be organized by age, sex, and breeding status.

Striped dolphins feed on a diverse diet consisting of various species of relatively small, closely-packed, midwater, "benthopelagic" and/or "pelagic"shoaling/schooling fish (e.g., "myctophids" and cod) and cephalopods (e.g., squid and octopus) throughout the water column. They are capable of diving to at least 2,300 ft (700 m).

This species has 43-50 pairs of small, sharp, conical teeth in the upper and lower jaws.

Striped dolphins become sexually mature at about 7 ft (2.1-2.2 m) in length, between

the ages of 5-13 years for females and 7-15 years for males. Their mating system is

generally unknown, but thought to be "polygynous". They give birth to a single 3 ft (1 m)

long calf during the summer or autumn after a gestation period of about one year.

The interval between giving birth to calves is usually 3-4 years, and lactation lasts 12-18

months. The estimated lifespan of these dolphins is up to 58 years.

Striped dolphins prefer highly productive tropical to warm temperate waters (52-84° F or

10-26° C) that are oceanic and deep. These dolphins are often linked to upwelling areas

and convergence zones.

 

 

REFERENCES

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2012 [online] http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/stripeddolphin.htm

(Accessed 14 march 2016)

 

 

Striped Dolphin Range

Click for larger view

Credit: NOAA

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