Striped Dolphin

Striped Dolphin

  • Scientific name: Stenella coeruleoalba
  • Size: Up to 9 feet in length and 400lbs
  • ICUN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Distribution: Found in warm waters around the world, occasionally found off south west coast of England and elsewhere around the UK on a sporadic basis.
  • Feeds on: Mostly fish and squid.
  • Description: Distinctive appearance. The underside is white with a long black line running across the eye and along most of the body. Flanks are shades of blue, black and grey, along with white with distinct jagged pattern present. The dorsal fin is fairly small as are flippers, while rostrum (snout) is relatively long.

The striped dolphin is a species of dolphin with a wide distribution, being found around most of the world. They are not common around the British Isles but can be spotted from time to time, especially around the south and west of England.


Worldwide distribution of the striped dolphin
Worldwide distribution of the striped dolphin.

The striped dolphin has an extremely wide distribution. While it is mostly found in warm waters around the equator in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans it can also be found throughout northern European waters. Indeed, this species has been observed in Norwegian and Icelandic waters. Around the UK they are mostly found around the south-west coast of England and appear to be increasing their distribution around Britain, possibly as a result of warming sea temperatures. Striped dolphins are a species which prefers to live in the open ocean. They are generally found far away from the shore over deep water, although they may come close to land masses which give way to deeper water.

Life Cycle

Striped dolphins live in groups which can consist of anything between twenty to several hundred individual dolphins, while pods of over one thousand striped dolphins have also been observed occasionally. Striped dolphins are a fast-moving species which will often leap from the water and display other energetic behaviour.

Striped Dolphins
Striped dolphins are an energetic species which will often jump from the water.

They actively hunt fish and squid, although with a species that covers as much of the planet as this species there is considerable regional variation over exactly what striped dolphins prey on.

Hunting and Numbers

Striped Dolphin Size Comparison
Size comparison between an average-sized striped dolphin and a human.

Striped dolphins are considered to a species of Least Concern on a global basis by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. However, the situation in Europe is less positive, with the species classed as Vulnerable in the Mediterranean and Data Deficient on a Europe-wide basis.  Pollution, parasitic infections, declining numbers of prey fish and inadvertent bycatch in commercial fishing gear are all though to play a part in the decline of this species in European waters. Striped dolphins are also hunted by Japan, although the numbers taken are thought to be reducing year on year. Small numbers of this species may also be hunted by other Asian countries and there may also be illegal fishing of this species by European nations in the Mediterranean, although the numbers taken are considered to be small and have little effect on the overall numbers of this species.