Common Dolphin

Delphinus delphis


Common Dolphins (also known as short-beaked common dolphins) live up to their name in UK waters, but are still at threat from getting caught in fishing nets. They can sometimes be seen leaping out of the water (known as 'breaching') or slapping their flippers on the surface (known as 'loptailing'). Entire pods will follow boats, bow-riding in their wake.

How to identify

Slender dolphin, dark grey above, whiter below, with a cream stripe down the side. Dorsal fin is triangular and curved backwards.

Where to find it

Found in the North Sea and in the west of the UK.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Common Dolphins and other marine mammals are under threat from pollution in our seas and are often caught in fishing nets. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Common Dolphin
Latin name
Delphinus delphis
Seals, turtles and other marine mammals
Length: 1.8-2.2m Weight: 75-115kg Average Lifespan: 20-25 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, listed under CITES Appendix II and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Also protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1997