Short Beaked Common Dolphin

Latin Delphinus delphis
Manx Lheimmeyder cadjin giare-ghobbagh


Physical Description

The Short Beaked Common Dolphin is a small and sleek cetacean with a body length of up to 2.5 metres. They have a distinctive yellow and white hourglass pattern on their flanks. The rest of the body is dark grey with a black beak and eye stripe. The beak is pointed and dorsal fin sickle shaped.


Common dolphin (Delphinus spp.) - dive sequence

This species is one of the fastest small cetaceans that exist, swimming at speeds over 25 mph. They are highly acrobatic and often seen bow-riding and breaching. They often swim at such speeds that most of the body leaves the water when they surface, this behaviour is known as porpoising.


Common dolphins have a varied diet, mainly feeding on small schooling fish such as herring. Like all dolphins they find their prey through echolocation.

Group size

Short Beaked Common dolphins are highly gregarious and in many parts of the world, so called ‘super pods’, containing over 2000 dolphins, can be observed. In Manx waters, a more likely pod size is between 10 and 50 individuals.

Abundance and distribution

This species is abundant worldwide and can be found in relatively coastal waters in mid-temperate and tropical environments. Their cousin, the Long-beaked Common dolphin (Dephinus capensis) is found off Africa and South America

Manx waters

Here, they can be seen offshore and inshore, typically on the western and southern sides of the island from June to September. Unfortunately, unlike their name suggests, ‘common’ dolphins are becoming an increasingly rare sight around the Isle of Man with an average of 5 sightings reported each year.