Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Long-Beaked Common Dolphin

Delphinus capensis


Long-beaked common dolphins are slender with tall, slightly curved dorsal fins. This species has 82-108 teeth and a longer beak than the short-beaked common dolphins, some individuals have a post-anal hump called a ventral keel. The pattern on the side of this dolphin is hourglass-like, forming a “V” below the dorsal fin. There is a stripe from chin to flipper which often touches the eye and remains wide ahead of the eye. Males tend to grow to be 2.03-2.54 m while females grow to be 1.93-2.22 m long. This species tends to weigh at least 235 kg.


This species can be found near the shore (generally within 180 km) of tropical to warm-temperate waters of the ocean. Populations are known to exist from the east coast of South America, West Africa, southern Africa, southern Japan and Korea, central California to southern Mexico, and Peru and Chile.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Long-beaked common dolphins are carnivores, consuming only meat. This species feeds on large array of small schooling fishes such as pilchards, sardines, anchovies, and hake. They also occasionally feed on squids. Feeding occurs in relatively shallow waters using cooperative feeding techniques to herd schools of fish.


Little is known of the long-beaked common dolphin reproduction. Courtship occurs in the spring and fall, which entails of males and females stroking each other with their flippers, swimming alongside each other and vigorously rubbing their bodies together. Females usually give birth 10-12 months after mating, producing only one calf but twins or triplets can occur. Dolphins are born tail first, which is the opposite of most species of mammals. Sexual maturity tends to occur around 12-15 years.

Months and Times of Activity

This species is very active, fast-moving and can be seen leaping in a repeated motion out of the water when swimming at high speeds. They are commonly seen riding the bow waves of vessels. This species actively breaches and performs various acrobatic leaps. Long-beaked common dolphins are gregarious, traveling in social groups called pods. Pods of long-beaked common dolphins are sometimes joined by pods of other dolphin species.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Dolphins are mammals and must come to the water’s surface to breath through their blow hole on top of their heads.
•    Dolphins communicate using two voices; one being for navigation and location while the other is used for social communication.
•    Dolphins are very playful, they do various flips and somersaults, and leap with their whole bodies out of water.
•    Common dolphins are the most abundant and wide spread species of dolphin.
•    Hybrids between the long-beaked common dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphins have been born in captivity.
•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;
•    Children’s book featuring this animal: I Love Whales & Dolphins by Steve Parker


Jefferson, Thomas. "Long-beaked Common Dolphin (D. Capensis)." Society for Marine Mammalogy. Clymene Enterprises, 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.