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The name "Striped" derives from it's dark bluish-black stripe extending across the entire length of the dolphin's body and the scientific name comes from the Latin caeruleus (sky blue) and albus (white).   The Striped dolphin is a well-shaped animal with no specific features, though it does have a distinctive beak.    With a falcate dorsal fin, it's cape is a dark blue grey in colour, and the flanks are lighter grey, becoming a pinkish white on the undersides.   It's flippers are black.   They are often known as "Whitebellies" for their white underparts (See picture above).   They fall into the acrobatic Stenella genus, for their behaviour.

Key Facts of the   Striped Dolphin:

Adult length:    Generally measuring between 1.8 metres and 2.5 metres, the Mediterranean species averages around 2 metres with the French Atlantic being about 2.2 metres.

Adult weight:    Weight varies from 90 kg to 150 kg, but averaging around 110 kg to 115 kg.

Lifespan:    Estimated to be around 50 years

Habitat:   Striped dolphins are found in the warm temperate waters, both tropical and subtropical, throughout the world.   Preferring deep waters, it can be found in inshore coastal regions also.   Local migration occurs around the equator in autumn/fall, and travels to the higher latitudes in the spring.

Group size:   Numbers for this species can vary from a few individuals to over a thousand, but pods generally consist of about 100 and 500.   There are usually three segregations within their groups, with juvenile, breeding adults and non-breeding adults.   Calves join the juveniles school about one or two years after weaning and as females mature, they will join the non-breeding adults.

Behaviour:   Very active, Striped dolphins are often seen performing various aerial movements of twisting and jumping and even bow riding whilst doing so!    A unique behavioural characteristic, they perform "high arcing jumps while violently and rapidly making several rotations with the tail before re-entering the water".  This particular movement is called "roto-tailing".   They also vocalise with various clicks and whistles.

Reproduction:   The mating season for this species occurs in the winter and early summer in the western north Pacific, and during the fall in the Mediterranean.    Gestation lasts around 12 to 13 months, with the fetus' growing approximately 0.29cm per day.      The female reaches sexual maturity at around 5 years, with her cycle extending over two and a half to three years.   The male is around 7 years and 2.2 metres in length when he attains sexual maturity.

Calves:   At birth, striped dolphins measure around 90 to 100 cm, weighing approximately 11 kg.     While lactation lasts anywhere from 8 to 18 months, the calves generally nurse for around 16 months

Diet & Feeding:    The diet of the striped dolphin consists generally of midwater fish and squid, preferring fish from depths of 600 to 3,000 metres.   The Mediterranean species feed primarily on sardines and anchovies while the northeastern Atlantic frequently enjoys cod.   Shrimp and octopus also make up their diet.

Notable features:   Known for its acrobatic ability, the striped dolphin surfaces every 5 to 10 or 20 seconds, able to jump as high as 6 to 7 metres (20 feet).    They are particularly attracted to ships and vessels, enjoying riding and playing in the bow waves.     Fast swimmers, their top speed is 27 to 31 km per hour, or 15 to 17 knots, although they can reach up to 37 km/hour (20 knots).     Highly social and active, the striped dolphin often swims with schools of albacore tuna in the tropical eastern Pacific.

Threats:     Striped dolphins constantly compete with man over anchovies, tuna and cod.  This species is often killed by fisherman in their nets, numbering about 2,000 to 4,000 each year by the 1980s.  In the Atlantic, individuals are often killed by harpoon for food.   Some have been kept in captivity but  training has not proved successful.

Population:   Although the Japanese estimated the local population to be between 400,000 and 600,000 in 1975, today's current status in unknown.

Other Striped Dolphin Facts:

Sizes and colouration of the striped dolphin varies according to geographic location.

There are many geographic varieties of striped dolphin, but three forms have been classified under the Stenella coeruleoalba.

They have 45 to 50 cone-shaped teeth on each side of the upper jaw, and 43 to 49  on either side of the lower.

Their pectoral fins are short.

The dorsal fin, pectoral fins, flukes, upper jaw and half the lower jaw are all dark in colour.

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