13 Apr 2018

13 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Sixteen: Short-beaked Common Dolphin

On the afternoon we left Tristan da Cunha and started sailing toward St Helena, we had our first memorial Dolphin encounter of the Odyssey. Up to that point, the Dolphin sightings had been disappointing. I had seen Hourglass Dolphins from the Plancius on a couple of occasions, but they had both been very brief sightings. But this afternoon we had a pod of at least ten Short-beaked Common Dolphins which joined the Plancius for an extended period of bow-waving. I had expected we would see Short-beaked Common Dolphins on a number of occasions on the Odyssey, given they are a relatively widespread Dolphin. However, checking their distribution shows that they do not occur in the Tropical central Atlantic, although they do occur along the full length of the African coast. Additionally, they occur in the Southern Atlantic about as far North as Tristan da Cunha & in the North Atlantic as far South as the Cape Verde Islands. This was the only sighting we had on the Plancius during the Odyssey voyage. However, we did get a number of additional sightings on the follow on West African Pelagic. This pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins were just magical & the light was excellent, so sit back & enjoy the photos.
Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin:Short-beaked Common Dolphins have this very distinctive pattern with the dark V below the dorsal fin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: A very clean entry back into the sea
Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin: Close up of the beak of the previous individual
Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked Common Dolphin
The taxonomy of Common Dolphins has changed over the years & a few years ago, Common Dolphins were split into Short-beaked Common Dolphin & Long-beaked Common Dolphin. Marijke said that the very latest understanding seems to be these are just subspecies of Common Dolphin within most of their range. However, some of the Pacific populations are still being investigated as to whether these should be split from Common Dolphin. I'm going to stick with the taxonomy of the Marine mammals of the World Second Edition which splits them. I've spent a fair bit of time in the last few days reviewing my Common Dolphin sightings & do not believe I have seen any Long-beaked Common Dolphins.

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