Common Dolphin

Marine Creature:  Common Dolphin (Delphinus Delphis)

                                                                                  Kindly compiled by Planet Whale

General Description

Short-beaked Common Dolphins are fast, energetic swimmers, readily attracted to the bow wave and wake of passing ships. This species is sometimes seen in large pods numbering thousands of animals. These pods may be highly active, porpoising at high speed and creating a lot of spray. Short-beaked Common Dolphins frequently associate with a number of other dolphin and whale species and usually feed close to the surface, often in the company of seabirds.

© Ian Rowlands, Dylan Walker & Sarah Jackson at Planet Whale

© Ian Rowlands, Dylan Walker & Sarah Jackson at Planet Whale


The Short-beaked Common Dolphin has a worldwide distribution in tropical, subtropical and temperate zones and is found both in shelf waters and beyond the edge of the continental shelf. In the eastern North Atlantic this species is widespread in both deep offshore and shallow inshore waters as far north as the UK, and is considered to be the most abundant cetacean in offshore temperate waters.

Interesting Facts

Like many species of dolphin, Common dolphins often love to bowride (swim at the front of moving vessels) which has been shown to conserve swimming energy in dolphins.

  • Size: Up to 2.5m in length
  • Lifespan: Unknown
  • Food: The majority of prey species in the common dolphin diet are pelagic fish, with dolphins often diving to between 100 m and 200 m to catch them. The prey of common dolphins also consists largely of small schooling fishes and squids.
© Ian Rowlands, Dylan Walker & Sarah Jackson at Planet Whale

© Ian Rowlands, Dylan Walker & Sarah Jackson at Planet Whale

Feeding & Hunting

Common dolphins dive up to 200m to hunt, often in large co-operative pods close to the surface. They’re often seen in large feeding frenzies involving large fish such as tuna and seabirds.


Fisheries bycatch is a big problem for the Common dolphin

Conservation Status & International Protection

IUCN status is shown as “least concern”

Best places in the world to see these creatures:

The Short-beaked Common dolphin can be seen in large numbers in many locations, including parts of Scotland and the Canary Islands. See more at plus ethical reviews and rating system for whale watching trips to see Common Whales

Organisation Profile:  Planet Whale

Orca7Description/Background of work

At the heart of Planet Whale is a belief that an encounter with a wild whale or dolphin reconnects us with the natural world in an amazing and powerful way. For one humbling moment we can be moved to tears or celebrating wildly as we stare through the thin veil of water that separates us from these magnificent animals.

Planet Whale understands that we all need such encounters to reawaken our sense of responsibility to the natural world; energising ourselves to act for the greater good. That is our first step – only when we have been inspired will we feel compelled to act. For this reason we promote responsible whale watching and have the largest online searchable database of whale and dolphin watch operators in the world – the public can review trips they’ve been on with regard to their sustainability, educational value and impact on the marine environment, amongst other things.

It is this global community that will change the way we view whales and dolphins forever. By harnessing the passion and ideas of individuals, we will achieve more to protect and defend our oceans than ever before.

Together we will: 

  • Give the people control so they can use it to help whales and dolphins.
  • Inspire change through a new global partnership.
  • Make whale watching more sustainable – and successful – than ever before!
  • Reach out to the world with colossal festivals for whales and dolphins.
  • Create innovative campaigns that harness the power of the web’s global community.

Volunteer/Paid Work Opportunities

We are always looking for passionate and hard-working volunteers to help achieve our Planet Whale mission. In particular we welcome applications for the upcoming Whalefest. You don’t need to be a whale expert but a lot of enthusiasm for marine conservation and a fun attitude are essential. We’re based in Brighton and Hove (UK) but our volunteer network stretches across the globe, so feel free to get in touch wherever you are! Contact us at


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