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The Clymene dolphin is distinguished from the very similar spinner dolphin by the shortness of its beak and its color pattern. Like spinners, they spin, leaping high out the water and rotating (not a somersault, but a sideways roll) several times before splashing back into the water. Clymene dolphins feed on deep-water fish and squid, and except for stranded individuals, have only been seen in deep water. Sharks and large toothed whales such as killer whales, pygmy killer whales, and false killer whales probably prey on them. Often the dolphins have small white marks on their skin that are healed shark bites. The species was first mentioned to in scientific literature with the description of a skull in the 19th century. No one was able to describe the Clymene dolphin scientifically until the 1970s, when some of them stranded in Texas and New Jersey.
The clymene dolphin, also known as the "short-snouted spinner dolphin," can be found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean (eastern North America to West Africa), the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. In the United States it has been recorded as far north as New Jersey and along the coast lines of Texas and Louisiana. It has also been recorded as far south as southern Brazil.
Habitat and Ecology
Very few stomachs have been examined, and there are even fewer observations of feeding behavior reported in the literature. Clymene Dolphins apparently feed predominantly on small fish (including myctophids) and squid at moderate depths.
The species is widespread, but abundance has not been estimated for the mid- and east Atlantic (and where abundance estimates do exist for other regions, these are low) and there are bycatches and directed takes in West Africa of unknown, but likely escalating, scale.
Clymene Dolphins are captured incidentally in gillnets in Venezuelan waters and utilized for longline shark bait and for human consumption.
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- Keith Mullin/Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)