Striped Dolphin

Stenella coeruleoalba


Introduction to Striped Dolphin

In some regions, the term streakers are used to identify the Striped Dolphins. They are able to move very quickly and that allows them to get away from boats that they got too close to. Yet their colors mean that there are streaks in the water. They are distinct in their coloring and many times seeing those streaks is the only way someone in a boat even knew they were so close to the dolphins.


Class  Mammalia
Subclass  Eutheria
Order  Cetacea
Suborder  Odontoceti
Family  Delphinidae
Genus  Stenella
Conservation status  Least Concern

Striped Dolphin Description

The striped patterns on their body leaves no mistake about which species of dolphin you happen to be looking at. They have blue bodies with white stripes on them down the lateral part of the body and the dorsal region. They sometimes have cream or light gray stripes in place as well. The belly of them is dark in color but it really depends on where they live as they blend into their surroundings. The stripes are more evident too as the Striped Dolphin ages.

The beak is very long on this dolphin and they have a long dorsal fin too. They can have narrow flippers that are long and that feature dark stripes of black on them. They can also be up to 9 feet long and weigh around 350 pounds. The females aren’t as large as the males but it is still hard to distinguish them from each other. Females are usually only about 8 feet long and they may weigh as much as 310 pounds.

The body of this dolphin is designed to allow them to move very quickly and easily through the water. They have sharp teeth that are cone shaped with anywhere from 43 to 50 pairs and the teeth are in the lower and the upper jaws.

Striped Dolphin Distribution

Warm bodies of water are where you will find the Striped Dolphin living. They are found in both the tropical seas and in the oceans. They live around the Gulf of Mexico and they have a very diverse habitat. They have been noted living both off short and in shore. They enjoy water that ranges from 52 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. They tend to stick to locations where there is upwelling and in convergence zones.

They are of great interest to the researchers though due to their overall movements. The Striped Dolphins don’t seem to have limited on their ranges and that could be due to the need to venture for food or for warmer waters. They have been identified though as moving into areas where they never lived before. Among those areas include Fareo Islands, Greenland, and Kamchatka Peninsula. There have been some reports of the Striped Dolphins living in areas around Alaska but they aren’t sure.

Striped Dolphin Behavior

This is the only species of dolphin that engages in roto-tailing where they leap up to 20 feet out of the water. While they are leaping, their fluke is rotating. They are very active and they continue to surprise people with all of their acrobatics. They are often seen leaping, breaching, bow riding, and so much more. They also tend to be more vocal than other dolphins with the amount of clicking and whistling that they engage in.

Pod size can be very large for the Striped Dolphin, with more than 1,000 members in some of them. Typically though they keep the numbers between 100 and 500 and there are plenty of subgroups within those larger ones to make it organized. There are various locations for them within the pod depending on if they are still nursing, a juvenile, a mating adult, or a mature adult that no longer mates. As a result, the movements within the pod can be very complex.

Striped Dolphin Feeding

They have access to a variety of types of food resources including cephalopods, fish, and crustaceans. They tend to eat differently though depending on the area where they live. They can dive up to 2,300 feet in order to find food. They also tend to be looking for food around sloped locations of the ocean floors.

Striped Dolphin Reproduction

Females can mate when they are as young as 5 years old but it could occur as old as 13. For the males, it can begin around 7 but it could be later around 15 years old. The overall length of the Striped Dolphin seems to be a better way to determine those that mate than their age. Most of them are mating around the time they are 7 feet in length.

There is very little information really known about the mating rituals for them. After mating the young calf will be born 12 or 13 months later. They can be 3 feet long at birth and they will be born fluke first. They will consume milk from their mother for about 18 months and also start to consume solid foods around 6 months of age. The females will give birth once every 3 or 4 years. These dolphins have one of the longest lifespans – ranging from 50 to 58 years.

Striped Dolphin Conservation Status and Threats

The Striped Dolphin is considered to be low risk of extinction, but there are still some conservation efforts in place for it. What has been noted is that without conservation tactics then their numbers could be threatened in as little as 5 years. The goal is to keep those numbers high now so that such problems aren’t going to be a factor down the road for this dolphin species.

Some of the factors that are a risk for them include loss of habitat, being killed for meat, commercial fishing, and pollution. Some of the current efforts in place involve limiting where commercial fishing occurs and the types of equipment used.

Reducing noise in many locations is important to reduce stress and hearing loss for these dolphins. Chemical pollution and plastic in the water are also areas where prevention is necessary. There are also laws in place that limit hunting of the Striped Dolphin in some areas. However, those laws aren’t always strictly enforced so that needs to be changed.

Photo taken by: Scott Hill

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