Atlantic White-sided Dolphin

Atlantic White Sided Dolphin

  • Scientific name: Lagenorhynchus acutus
  • Size: Up to 10ft in length and 600lbs in weight
  • IUCN Status
    • Global: LC (Least Concern)
  • Distribution: Found in temperate waters on the North American coast and across to cooler European waters.
  • Feeds on: Fish and squid.
  • Description: Stout but streamlined body with swept back dorsal and pectoral fins. Colour is dark grey on the black and upper flanks with dark and light grey stripes along the lower flanks and yellowish stripe running along the mid-section of the body to the tail.

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is a species of dolphin which is relatively common off the coast of North America and throughout European waters. This species is easily recognised by the pale yellow stripe on its flanks, a feature unique to this species.


Worldwide distribution of the Atlantic white-sided dolphin

Worldwide distribution of the Atlantic white-sided dolphin

As the name suggests the Atlantic white-sided dolphin is found throughout the cooler waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is found all along the Northern coasts of Canada and the United States, while in Europe it is found across the waters of Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia, as well as in the North Sea. Being a species which prefers cooler, temperate waters the Atlantic white-sided dolphin is not found any further south than the English Channel and is absent from the Mediterranean Sea and the waters around the equator.

Life Cycle

While Atlantic white-sided dolphins can occasionally be found close to land, but are generally found in deeper waters out to sea. They group with other white-sided dolphins in large numbers, but will also break away into smaller groups to hunt for food. This species of dolphin is also known to form groups with other species of dolphins (most commonly bottlenose and common dolphins) and may also join groups with species of whales. Atlantic white-sided dolphins are predators which feed on all manner of fish, as will a range of species of squid.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins are thought to be able to reproduce when they are approximately eight to ten years old, with new born calves staying with the parents for a year or two.

Hunting, Conservation Efforts and IUCN Status

Commercially caught Atlantic white-sided dolphins

Commercially caught white-sided dolphins being processed in the port of Hvalba, Faroe Islands. These pictures were taken in August 2006.

This species has been hunted in the past and continues to be hunted by nations such as the Faroe Islands where the species is used for food. However, the numbers taken each year are thought to be in the low hundreds and have little impact on the long-term numbers of this species. Overall the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) classes the Atlantic white-sided dolphin as a species of Least Concern on a global basis.

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