Scientific Name: Stenella coeruleoalba

Malti: L-Istenella

The striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) is fairly easy to identify at sea thanks to its distinctive striping.

At first glance it may resemble the common dolphin which is broadly similar in size and shape; however, the striped dolphin has a dark body stripe and unlike the common dolphin, it does not have a yellow hourglass pattern on its sides. One of its most distinctive features is the striking black line which extends from the eye to the middle area of the body with another one stopping behind the eyes. Its belly is pinkish white in colour. It has a slender body and a prominent beak. The adult dolphin can reach a size of 200 to 220 cm. It is much smaller than the bottlenose dolphin which has an even grey colour on its body, but which can reach 3.8 metres in size.

The striped dolphin is active and highly conspicuous. It frequently breaches, and is capable of performing amazing acrobatics, including somersaults and tail-spins. Breaching is when the whale or dolphin launches itself into the air and falls back with a splash. When swimming at speed, up to one-third of a school will be above the surface at any one time, with dives typically lasting 5 to 10 minutes. They will often bow-ride in some areas (mainly in the Atlantic and Mediterranean) but rarely approach vessels in other areas.

One of the most abundant populations is present in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the Ligurian Sea, the Alboran Sea and the waters off the Balearic Islands and Iberian Peninsula.