The Striped Dolphin can be found in the tropical and temperate waters of all of the oceans in the world. This dolphin species was first discovered in 1833 by Meyen. Its Latin name refers to the colours of its flanks, which are dark blue and white.
Striped Dolphins can be found worldwide
It is similar in size to other dolphins that inhabit these waters such as the Clymene Dolphin, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, and the Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphin. However, its colouration does make it easy to distinguish them at sea. They have a whitish or pinkish underside. There are 1 or 2 black bands circling its eyes, and these run across to the back towards its flipper. As the name suggests, there are quite a number of stripes on this dolphin. These stripes are all either grey or light blue. Its appendages are all black. At birth, a Striped Dolphin will weigh about 10 kg and are 1 metre long. However, as adults they will grow up to 2.4 – 2.6 metres long and weigh between 150 – 160 kg.
Interestingly enough, research has found that Striped Dolphins in various sea waters will sexually mature at different ages. A Striped Dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea will take 12 years to mature, while those in the Pacific Ocean will take about 7 to 9 years to sexually mature. They will usually live up to about 55 to 60 years in the wild. Gestation lasts for about 1 year, but there is a 3 – 4 year gap between calving.
Similarly to other dolphins, the Striped Dolphin is a social creature and will therefore move in large groups. These groups are so large that they can be up to 1000s of individuals. However, it is thought that these groups could be smaller in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, and that they mix with Common Dolphins. They will eat small pelagic fish and squid.
Striped Dolphins are capable of performing acrobatics. They frequently breach and they jump far above the water’s surface. Sometimes they will approach boats in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, but this is less common in the Pacific Ocean where they were heavily exploited in the past.
A Striped Dolphin in flight
Unfortunately, Japan hunted the Striped Dolphins in the western Pacific Ocean since at least the 1940s. During “striped dolphin drives”, 8000 – 9000 individuals were killed per year, except for one exceptional year where a whopping 21,000 individuals were killed. Since quotas were introduced in the 1980’s, this number has fallen to about 1000 kills per annum. However, Conservations are worried that the Striped Dolphin population in the Mediterranean Sea are threatened by disease, pollution, shipping lanes, and accidental catches.
There have been attempts to try and keep this dolphin in captivity. Unfortunately, the Striped Dolphin has failed live successfully in captivity, with animals usually dying within 2 weeks because they fail to eat.