Striped dolphin

Stenella coeruleoalba
Other names: 
  • Whitebelly
  • Blue-white dolphin
  • Meyen's dolphin
  • Streaker porpoise
Maximum length: 
  • Male: 2.6m
  • Female: 2.4m
  • Calf: 1m
Maximum weight: 
  • Male: 160kg
  • Female: 150kg
  • Calf: 10kg
  • Small midwater and pelagic fish (for example, lanternfish and/or cod)
  • Squid
Estimated population: 
2 million
IUCN Listing: 
CITES Appendix: 
CMS Appendix: 
II (Eastern tropical Pacific and Mediterranean populations)

The striped dolphin is extremely active at the surface, performing amazing acrobatics including somersaults, back-somersaults, upside down porpoising, and breaching with leaps three times its length. Striped dolphins are widely distributed throughout the world's oceans and tend to prefer offshore waters in temperate and tropical zones. The striped dolphin is known to venture further north than other species in the Stenella genus and is regularly sighted in European waters.


The striped dolphin body size and shape resembles the short-beaked common dolphin, but the colour pattern is unique; its dorsal side is bluish grey to brownish grey, with a white to pinkish underside. The most recognisable feature is a stripe running from the dark beak, above the eye, across its flank and down to the underside at the rear of its body. A second pronounced stripe runs below the eye to the pectoral flipper. It may or may not have a black patch around each eye.


Striped dolphins travel in groups, typically numbering from a few dozen to 500 animals, but herds numbering in the thousands are sometimes reported. When swimming at speed, as much as one-third of a pod will be above water at any given time. Striped dolphins are curious animals and will also often bow-ride, sometimes approaching from a distance. In the wild they can occasionally be seen associating with common dolphins, however confusion over identification can be avoided as the species-specific colouration and markings are easily distinguishable; the striped dolphin does not possess the yellow hourglass pattern found on the common dolphin.


Striped dolphins feed mostly on small fish, such as cod or lanternfish, and small squid. The largest threats to striped dolphins are bycatch in fishing nets, and intentional hunts. Striped dolphins are amongst the delphinids targeted in the Japanese drive fisheries. Conservationists are also concerned about the long-term impact that pollution, habitat degradation, and prey depletion will have on populations and although the IUCN provide a population estimate of approx. 2 million individuals, and list them as of 'Least Concern' (2008), certain populations may be more at risk than this might imply.

Distribution map: