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Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

The Canary Islands lie in the marine current of the same name and marks the southern end of the cold waters of the North Atlantic, which is why we can find animals from both cold and tropical seas. This makes the archipelago one of the places in Europe with the highest diversity of cetaceans, with at least 29 different species.

One of the odontocetes –toothed whales– from the Canaries is the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), owing its name to the many spots adults have on their entire body. It is also recognizable by a pale-colored line on each side. It’s endemic to the warm waters of the Atlantic, and here it is a sporadic species that appears in autumn and is present until late spring. They form vast groups of hundreds of animals. They’re very active and sometimes swim in boat wakes. They have the particularity of presenting two different morphologies depending on their habitat; coastal individuals are larger and ore robust than their oceanic counterparts. The maximum length is around 2.5 m (8'3"), although dolphins from the Canary Islands are usually smaller. It feeds on fish and cephalopods it finds by echolocation, an adaptation that was developed by odontocetes 34 million years ago.

Non-selective fishing, contamination and whaling industry are some of the threats the Atlantic spotted dolphin is facing. There is no sufficient data available to determine the conservation status of the species, but in the Canary Islands it does not enjoy any kind of protection. In spite of this, it is increasingly abundant in the archipelago.

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