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Stenella longirostris

Spinner Dolphin

Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae

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Image of Stenella longirostris
Stenella longirostris - battleship gray variant, right; tri-colored variant, left
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Conservation Status: Data Deficient.

Schools of spinner dolphins leap out of the water, twirl, and reenter with a large, noisy splashes that can be heard for long distances underwater. Usually they make several such spinning leaps in a row. The reason is a mystery. It may be to remove parasites from the skin, or to communicate with other animals in the school - or is it just for fun? Spinners are found in tropical waters worldwide. In Hawaii, they rest in shallow bays during the day, and swim out at dusk to forage in deeper waters. Groups of spinners disperse over a wide area when they are feeding, and different individuals may return to a bay in the morning. This suggests that the spinners around an island are a super-school, within which a number of sub-groups - perhaps family groups - move freely. Spinners are among the dolphins caught and killed in tuna fisheries.

Also known as:
Spinner Porpoise, Long-snouted Spinner Dolphin, Delfín Tornillón

Range: 1.3-2.4 m

Range: 22-75 kg


Gray, J.E., 1828.  Spicilegia zoologica; or original figures and short systemic descriptions of new and unfigured animals, p. 1.  Treuttel, Wurtz and Co. and W. Wood, London, 8 pp.


Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Stenella longirostris

Image of Stenella longirostris
Click to enlarge. (180kb)