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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Cetacea · Delphinidae · Stenella clymene

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Stenella clymene

Clymene Dolphin

Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae

Image of Stenella clymene
Stenella clymene - female, above; male tail, below
Click to enlarge this image. (47 kb)

Conservation Status: Data Deficient.

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.

Also known as:

Short-snouted Spinner Dolphin, Delfín de Yelmo

Sexual Dimorphism:



Range: 1.8-2 m


Range: 45-85 kg


Gray, J. E., 1846.  On the cetaceous animals. Pp. 13-53, in The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror, under the command of Capt. Sir J. C. Ross, R. N., F. R. S., during the years 1839 to 1843 (Sir J. Richardson and J. E. Gray, eds.) [1844-1875]. 1:39.  E. W. Janson, London, 2 vols.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Distribution of Stenella clymene

Image of Stenella clymene
Click to enlarge this image. (216kb)

Skull of Stenella clymene
Click to enlarge this image. (41kb)

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