MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Lagenorhynchus albirostris is a toothed whale and can be recognised as such by the single blowhole and the presence of teeth. It is a member of the dolphin family with a characteristic prominent median notch in the flukes, a smooth crease-less throat and sharply pointed teeth. The white-beaked dolphin reaches up to 3.2 m in length. It has moderately long and slender flippers and small tail flukes. The dorsal fin is tall, large and located on the middle of the back. The head is smoothly sloping with a distinct but small snout. It has a complex, gradually changing colour pattern. The dorsal and lateral colouration is dark grey and the belly and beak are white. Wisp-like light grey colouration on the flanks with a light grey saddle.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found all around the British Isles, particularly off the coasts of Scotland and in the North Sea but also south-west Britain and western Ireland.

Global distribution

-

Habitat

The white-beaked dolphin is an offshore species and prefers waters less than 200 m deep.

Depth range

-

Identifying features

  • Slender body up to 3.2 m in length.
  • Tall, large dorsal fin located on the middle of the back.
  • Very deepened tail stock.
  • Gradually changing, wispy colouration dark grey above, white below with a light grey saddle are and lateral wisp.
  • No distinct black lines.
  • Beak is usually white.
  • Short slender flippers.
  • Gently sloping head with a short, thick beak.
  • Straight mouthline.

Additional information

White-beaked dolphins are usually found in large pods of up to several thousand individuals. Mixed schools with other species including Atlantic white-sided dolphins, Lagenorhynchus acutus, have been recorded. Their surface behaviour is typical of dolphins with acrobatic leaps and bow-riding are not uncommon. Dive duration is unknown (Kinze, 2002).

Listed by

Further information sources

Search on:

Bibliography

  1. Bruyns, W.F.J.M., 1971. Field guide of whales and dolphins. Amsterdam: Publishing Company Tors.

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Jefferson, T.A., Leatherwood, S. & Webber, M.A., 1994. FAO species identification guide. Marine mammals of the world. Rome: United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

  4. Kinze, C. C., 2002. Photographic Guide to the Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. OBIS,  2017. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2017-11-20

  6. Reid. J.B., Evans. P.G.H., Northridge. S.P. (ed.), 2003. Atlas of Cetacean Distribution in North-west European Waters. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Lagenorhynchus albirostris White-beaked dolphin. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/117

Last Updated: 02/06/2008