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Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Lagenorhynchus acutus

Atlantic-white sided dolphins are a sociable species, often coming together to form large pods containing hundreds or thousands of dolphins.

They will also sometimes be seen in the company of other species, including much larger baleen whales.

Other names: Atlantic white-sided porpoise, Lag, Springer, Jumper

Dolphin illustration
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 2.8m 2.5m 1.2m
Maximum weight 235kg Unknown Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Least Concern

What do Atlantic white-sided dolphins look like?

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin gets its name from the distinctive white stripe on its side, which starts just below the dorsal fin and runs into a yellow/ochre blaze continuing onto the tailstock which is easily seen when the animal is bow-riding or porpoising. They are quite stocky little dolphins with short stubby beaks yet a relatively large dorsal fin.

What’s life like for an Atlantic white-sided dolphin?

These little dolphins are perhaps more shy and less demonstrative than other dolphins, but they’re just as capable of performing impressive leaps and breaches. They are fast swimmers and will occasionally bow-ride. Usually found in pods of anything between two and 50 individuals it is not uncommon to see much larger pods (hundreds or even thousands of dolphins) where they  have found dense concentrations of food. Atlantic white-sided dolphins are pretty sociable and are known to associate with a variety of other species.

What do Atlantic white-sided dolphins eat?

They have a very flexible palate and seem just as happy munching down on herring, cod or mackerel as they are snacking on shrimp and sandeels. Atlantic white-sided dolphins are also known to be ‘co-operative feeders’ which means they work together as a group to herd fish into large groupings where they can be picked off more easily.

Where do Atlantic white-sided dolphins live?

Atlantic white-sided dolphins have a limited distribution but are found in both temperate and cold waters of the north Atlantic Ocean, usually over deep-slope continental shelves and canyon waters. They tend to prefer deeper water and aren’t seen close to shore that often.

Reviewing the family

Scientists will soon undertake a complete revision of the Lagenorhynchus genus and the current six species may end up being classified quite differently, with an increase in numbers of species, but with some of these being quite vulnerable and possibly even endangered.

Distribution map

Atlantic white-sided dolphin distribution map
In the Oceans

Atlantic white-sided dolphins need your help

The main threats...

  • Stop Hunting – targeted for their meat in several places throughout their range including the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

  • Prevent deaths in nets – Atlantic white-sided dolphins appear to be particularly susceptible to becoming entangled in mid-water trawls.

  • Healthy Seas – pollution (and climate change) is one of the burgeoning threats facing Atlantic white-sided dolphins throughout their range.

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