Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea

Striped Dolphin

The striped dolphin is the most abundant dolphin species in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a small, active and energetic dolphin, usually seen swimming very fast in long, low arching leaps. The name comes from its characteristic lateral dark grey stripes that run from the beak, all along the entire body. A pale grey or white blaze extends towards the base of the dorsal fin like a brushstroke, while the dorsal cape is dark grey and the underside is withe or pinkish.

This small, streamlined oceanic dolphin has an average length of 2.1 m to 2.4 m and 100-150kg of weight.

  • Scientific Name: Stenella Coeruleoalba
  • Common name: Stripped dolphin
  • Suborder: Odontoceti
  • Family: Delphinidae
  • Genus: Stenella
  • Species: Stenella Coeruleoalba
  • Habitat: Pelagic zone
Striped Dolphin FAR


Striped Dolphin CLOSE


Striped Dolphin

Habitat and distribution

Striped dolphins are widely distributed in both emispheres. Their range includes waters off northern Europe, Japan, Argentina, South Africa, western Australia, and New Zealand. It is the most abundant species of dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea. It prefers tropical to warm temperate waters (11 to 26° C), deeper than 1,000m. Generally occurring outside the continental shelf , it can however be found close to shore where it is sufficiently deep.


The striped dolphin is a carnivorous animal that feeds mainly on a variety of small fish, measuring 6 to 30 cm in length, squid and some crustaceans. The population of the Mediterranean Sea prefers small fish and cephalopods. The striped dolphin has an opportunistic feeding style and can look for its prey in any area of the water column. If necessary, it submerges to depths of 200 to 700 meters.


The striped dolphin groups in pods of 10 to 100 individuals organized by age, gender and reproduction status. It is a very active, energetic and extremely agile dolphin, frequently breaching up to 5 to 7 m high. A unique behaviour is called “roto-tailing”, a high arcing leap while vigorously whipping the tail in a circle before entering the water. Its communication is similar to the one of other dolphins, based on the emission of clicks, squeals, and whistles.

Lifespan and reproduction

The lifespan of striped dolphins is over 50 years. Males become sexually mature at the age between 7 and 15 years, while females reach sexual maturity at 5 to 13 years. In other parts of the world, these animals usually mate in winter and summer months. Meanwhile, those in the Mediterranean region tend to mate in autumn. Females give birth approximately every 3 years and the gestation lasts 12-13 months.


  • Bycatch is a threat in several parts of the world, with hundreds to thousands being killed annually in fisheries, in fishing gear, such as purse seines, pelagic trawls and driftnets.
  • The striped dolphin is the main species caught in Japanese and some other Countries’ fisheries for human consumption.
  • Overfishing, contamination of their habitat and noise pollution complete the range of threats.

Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea

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