Priority species healthcheck
The fastest dolphin to be
found in Welsh waters
The common dolphin has a slender and elegant body shape with a
long beak and sharp angle between the beak and forehead. The dorsal
fin is tall and slender with a half-moon or sickle-shaped trailing
The patterning of this species is very distinctive; the
attractively marked flank of yellow buff and grey patches forms a
swepping hourglass shape brought into stark relief by the black
upper body and white belly. The characteristic inverted v-shaped
patterned mirrors the dorsal fin and further adds to the dramatic
appearance of this species.
This is not a coastal species, but an open ocean or 'pelagic'
dolphin. It is found in large groups or 'pods' of up to, and over,
a hundred individual animals. Common dolphins are the fastest of
all the small dolphins, reaching speeds of 27mph. They are often
active at the surface; jumping and splashing.
Common dolphins are one of the smallest dolphins, with a body
length of 1.7-2.4m, weighing 70-110kg. They are between a harbour
porpoise and a bottlenose dolphin in size.
In Wales, common dolphins are more likely to be sighted at sea
from boats, although they can be seen from offshore islands such as
Bardsey and the Pembrokeshire islands. Large congregations of
common dolphins are found in the summer months (May to November) in
the waters off the coast of Pembrokeshire in St George's
Information supplied from CCW Species Series: Dolphins,
porpoises and whales in Welsh waters.
Status (Legal protection)
- Species of principal importance in Wales
- UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species
- Schedule 5 Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
- Appendix II Bern Convention
- Appendix II Bonn Convention
- Annex IV EC Habitats & Species
- Schedule 2 Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
- Annex A of EU Council Regulation
338/97; therefore treated by the EU as if they are included in
CITES Appendix I
Information from www.jncc.gov.uk.
Status, trend, target and threat information comes live from