Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is seldom found near shore. It prefers instead to swim far out to sea in the clear water on the edge of the continental shelf, where the sea floor plunges to the great depths of the mid-ocean. It can dive to about 270 m (885 ft) and generally hunts at about 40 m (130 ft) below the surface. Down there it uses its long snout and many small teeth to snatch prey from the water. It targets shoaling prey, such as herrings, shrimps and even certain squid. The dolphin plunges into the shoal, snapping up food as it passes through.

Female Atlantic white-sided dolphins are considerably smaller than the males, weighing just 180 kg (400 lb). The dolphin's back is dark grey or black. This becomes paler on the sides and is white or cream on the underside. This coloration makes the animal hard to spot from both above and below.

Like many oceanic dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphin is social and lives in family groups of about six individuals, although larger clans of more than a thousands dolphins do form.

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is nomadic (it has no distinct migration routes); instead the dolphins travel throughout their range in search of food.

Distribution: Along the continental shelf of the British Isles, Norway and other North Atlantic coasts.

Habitat: Cold, open water.

Food: Shrimps and small fish.

Size: 3 m (9.75 ft); 250 kg (550 lb).

Maturity: 12 years.

Breeding: 1 calf born every 2 - 3 years.

Life span: 40 years.

Status: Common.