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Meet the striped  dolphins

Last week our team was lucky enough to add another cetacean to the list of observed species – the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) and, as always, we would like to introduce it to everyone.

Also known as ‘streaker’ or ‘whitebelly’, this dolphin species is easily recognizable by its long dark and white stripes present on its flanks. It has a robust body with a blue-grey coloration on the back and a pinkish-white belly. If we compare it to its better known cousin, the bottlenose dolphin, it is a lot smaller in size – reaching a maximum length of 2.7 meters and weighing only up to 160 kilograms. There is no sexual dimorphism, which means that males and females look exactly the same.

The species has a global distribution. The striped dolphin is easily seen in tropical, sub tropical and warm temperate waters but can also be found in the south of Iceland and Greenland. It prefers to live in pelagic habitats and  it approaches the shore only in places where deep waters are found near the coast. Its diet consists mainly of fish and various cephalopods, with a preference for lanternfish and squids. It gives birth to a calf every 4 years after a gestation period of a little over a year.

What is interesting to observe in this species is the wide array of social behaviours that it displays. The striped dolphin lives in very large groups made of hundreds of individuals that engage in activities such as breaching, chin-slapping, belly flopping or even back somersaults. Their acrobatic nature and their curiosity to approach the boats is what makes them so entertaining.

Although it is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List, the striped dolphin is exposed to multiple threats like hunting or being accidentally caught in fishing nets, which put the worldwide population at risk.

By Ramona Negulescu - Tenerife Project Coordinator

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