short-beaked common dolphin illustration

Short-beaked Common Dolphin

Delphinus delphis 

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetartiodactyla
Suborder Odontoceti
Family Delphinidae
Genus Delphinus
Species delphis

Short-beaked common dolphins are 6 to 8 ft long (1.8 to 2.4 m) and adults averagely weigh 170 lb (78 kg).

Short-beaked common dolphins live approximately 35-40 years.

They eat schooling fish (herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, etc) and squid. They’re cooperative feeders and may drive their fish prey into a “bait-ball”.

Widely distributed, they can be found in all oceans but prefer tropical and temperate waters. 

Threats to Short-beaked Common Dolphins
Habitat shifting and alteration, fishing & harvesting of aquatic resources, incidental mortality in fishing gear (or bycatch), anthropogenic (human-created) noise

Current Population Trend Unknown

Conservation Status
Least Concern

The IUCN Red List tracks the conservation status of organisms around the world. Visit the Red List to learn more about the conservation status of short-beaked common dolphins.

OCS Research Insights

Common dolphin are usually found in groups of  20-30 individuals, but we have observed mega-pods of 5,000+ individuals in our study area off Los Angeles!

Learn more about OCS research
Read the scientific paper

In our study area off Southern California, sea lions follow these dolphins to take advantage of their superior ability in finding prey (thanks to the dolphins’ powerful biosonar!)

Learn more about OCS research
Read the scientific paper

Long-beaked and short-beaked common dolphins frequent the same areas (sympatric) off Los Angeles but we’ve rarely seen them in mixed-groups. Recently, the two species have been merged into a single species!

Learn more about OCS research
Read the scientific paper

Short-beaked Common Dolphin Facts

• They are among the most gregarious (sociable) of all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises); they bow ride boats and you can hear them whistling.

• Are called “common” dolphins as they have been sighted in every ocean and most seas, except polar regions. However, they have been declining dramatically in some areas (for example, in the Mediterranean Sea).

• Previously considered to be one species, in 1994 the common dolphin was separated into short-beaked and long-beaked varieties. However, more recent studies suggest that the initial classification was correct, and so the common dolphin is in fact one species, with high variation through its range.


Protect whales and dolphins now and for future generations


Here's how you can help

Learn Safe Observation

Learn how to safely observe whales, dolphins and other marine mammals - whether from a boat, surfboard or when kayaking or swimming.

Report Injuries or Harassment

Know who to contact if you encounter marine animals who are injured, in distress, or those being harassed by humans or boats.

Support Marine Research

OCS conducts one of the longest-running investigations on wild dolphins and whales existing worldwide. Learn more about research projects that help ensure the protection of these animals for generations to come.

Share Your Knowledge!

Ocean conservation starts with education. Share this page by copy/pasting its URL into your social media accounts to educate others about the magnificent marine mammals we share our planet with.

whale and dolphin species drawings © Massimo Demma / ICRAM / Muzzio