Pacific Spotted Dolphin

Pacific Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata)Spanish name: Delfin Manchado del Pacifico

This dolphin can be found in the waters along the Tropical Pacific coast.

Spotted Dolphins live in coastal and offshore waters in the Tropics and subtropics, including the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Caribbean and China sea, near Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, and the Gulfs of California and Mexico.

Physical Description
This sleek, long dolphin has a distinct coloration: its back is covered in a dark gray patch of skin or "saddle' that spreads from its front to past the dorsal fin. Small white spots cover the dark area, and dark spots speckle the creamy white belly. It also has a dark patch over the eyes and several other distinct dark lines on the face and body. The dorsal fin is curved and the flukes and flippers are small and pointed. The size of the spotted dolphin can vary, but individuals in coastal populations tend to be larger.

Interesting Biology
These dolphins can gather in groups of 1,000 or more individuals, especially in offshore populations-but groups of a few hundred are more commonly found. Coastal populations tend to be smaller, numbering 50 or fewer individuals. Spotted dolphin pods include both sexes and all ages, and sometimes they blend schools with other dolphin species as well, such as the spinner dolphin. These agile dolphins can swim up to 28 km/h and may speed next to boats, performing acrobatic leaps.

A female will have one calf every 2 to 3 years, after an 11½ -month gestation period; the calf will rely on her milk for 18 months. These dolphins can live for up to 45 years, but thousands are killed every year in nets of men fishing for yellow fin tuna. Because the spotted dolphin's diet is similar to this tuna, the dolphins are often with them, and sometimes fishermen purposefully follow the dolphins to the tuna-and subsequently pull them in with the catch. In Japan 2,000 spotted dolphins are still intentionally killed every year for food.

Spotted dolphins prey on squid and at least 18 species of fish.

Height/ Weight
Adults reach lengths of 2.2-2.5 m, and weigh 90-165 kg.; males are larger than females, but females have a larger snout.

Brief Taxonomy
Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae

Saenz, Joel C., Grace Wong, and Eduardo Carrillo. Ballenas y delfines de America Central. Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad. Costa Rica, 2004.

-Amy Strieter, Wildlife Writer