Delphinus delphis   Linnaeus,  1758 (Dolphin)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: Male: 2.6 m; Female: 2.3 m.

Weight: Usually not more than 75 kg.

Color: The color pattern of the Common Dolphin is striking. It is black or dark brown above, including the dorsal fin, tail flukes, beak and flippers and there are large yellow patches on the sides. The tail stock and rear flanks are grey. There is a black stripe from the black patch surrounding the eye to the front of the melon, and another from the chin to the flippers.

A slender dolphin, the Common Dolphin has a long beak separated by a crease from the melon. The prominent dorsal fin may be triangular or falcate, and the flippers taper to a pointed tip. There may be 40 to 58 pairs of small, pointed teeth in each jaw.

This species may dive to about 300 meters depth for food, staying submerged for as long as 8 minutes. Sometimes they shoot out of water to catch flying fish in mid air.
It feeds on small fish and cephalopods.

Common Dolphins are playful animals, rolling and leaping in the water. They are found in groups of sizes ranging from 3-200, or in the herds of many hundreds. Their speed may exceed 40 km per hour. They are avid vessel bow-riders; they enjoy bow-riding so much that they may do it for hours. These dolphins will even ride the bow wave of large whales, such as the Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus and the Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus.

Similar species: The hour glass pattern on side is distinctive feature, and minimizes confusion with other species. However, Clymene dolphins look similar.

Synonym (s)
Delphinus albimanus Peale, 1848
Delphinus algeriensis Loche, 1860
Delphinus delphus Linnaeus, 1758
(Spelling variation)
Delphinus forsteri Gray, 1846
Delphinus fulvifasciatus Wagner, 1846
Delphinus fulvofasciatus True, 1889
Delphinus janira Gray, 1846
Delphinus loriger Wiegmann 1846
Delphinus marginatus Lafont, 1868
Delphinus novaezealandiae Gray, 1850
Delphinus novaezeelandiae Wagner, 1846
Delphinus novaezelandiae Quoy & Gaimard, 1830
Delphinus vulgaris Lacepede, 1804
Delphinus zelandae Gray, 1853

Common Name (s)
• Short Beaked Common Dolphin (English)
• Saddle Backed Dolphin (English)
• Common Dolphin (English)
• Saddleback Dolphin (English)
• Whitebelly Porpoise (English)
• Crisscross Dolphin (English)
• Chankan Edi (Malayalam)
• Panavai meen (Tamil)
• Pomigra (Tamil)
• Ganupuli (Telugu)
• Short Beaked Saddle Backed Dolphin (English)
• Short Beaked Saddleback Dolphin (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Most frequently caught accidentally in gill nets; shot for fun or sport. )

Habitat:  Open Sea, Coastal
Prey:  Fish, squid and crabs.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Lat: 13.09) (Long: 80.29) INDIA
• Bay of Bengal (Lat: 15) (Long: 90) INDIA
• Maharashtra, Mumbai Coast INDIA
• Kerala, Kozhikode INDIA (Record: 1976-1980, 1993, 06/07/1996)
• Kerala, Kochi Coast INDIA
• Andhra Pradesh, Vishakhapatnam INDIA (Record: 1866)
• Tamil Nadu, Chennai Coast INDIA
• Kerala, Travancore INDIA (Record: 1902-1905)
• Lakshadweep INDIA (Record: 12/1935)
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair INDIA (Record: 30/03/1979)
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA (Record: 1982-1984)
• Kerala, Kollam INDIA (Record: 1982-1987)
• Tamil Nadu, Mandapam INDIA (Record: 20/02/1982, 10/4/1992)
• Tamil Nadu, Krusadai Island INDIA (Record: 8/12/1982)
• Goa, Calangute INDIA (Record: 1983)
• Kerala, Kochi INDIA (Record: 07/1983-12/1986, 1981-1982)
• Orissa, Paradwip INDIA (Record: 5/9/1987)
• Andhra Pradesh, Kakinada (Lat: 16.06) (Long: 77.2) INDIA (Record: 5/2/1989)
• Maharashtra INDIA (Record: 20/03/1997)
• Andhra Pradesh INDIA (Record: 14/10/1997)
• Andhra Pradesh, Dummulapeta INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Vellapatti INDIA (Record: 30/06/1999)
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, North Reef Island INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Agarwal, VC and Alfred, JRB (1999) Handbook: Whales, dolphins and dugong from Indian seas ZSI, Calcutta 150 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at -
  • Tikader, BK and Das, AK (1985) Glimpses of animal life of Andaman and Nicobar Islands ZSI, Kolkata 1-170 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Tikader, BK (1983) Threatened animals of India ZSI 1-285 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Molur, S and Walker, S (1998) Mammals of India. Report summary 1998 Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13(9) 7 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Lal Mohan, RS (1998) Dolphins of Kanyakumari coast and its status Zoos' Print Journal Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore 13 55-57 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at -
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Rao, GC; Rao, DV and Devi, K (1994) A faunal exploration of the North Reef Island sanctuary, North Andaman Journal of the Andaman Science Association Andaman Science Association, Port Blair 10(1&2) 68-81 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Singh H.S (2003) Sea mammals in marine protected area in the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat State, India Indian Journal of Marine Science 258-262pp Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-11-07

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