Wildlife Sightings Blog
Dolphin watching on the Isle of Mull
The smallest of the
Dolphins commonly seen around the Hebrides, this species reaches
lengths of 1.6-2.0 metres. They have a dark grey back, cream
underneath and a distinctive pale hourglass pattern on the side,
this tends to be yellow at the front and grey at the back. They
also have a distinctive beak or rostrum and a curved dorsal fin.
There are two species of Common Dolphin worldwide; the
short-beaked and the long-beaked, the species seen around the
Hebrides are the short-beaked. This species is more numerous
worldwide and can be found in most warm temperate and tropical
waters, the long-beaked also inhabit warm temperate and tropical
waters, however they are restricted to more coastal waters around
South America, Japan, West Africa and California south to Mexico.
Common Dolphins are summer visitors to the Hebrides and are seen
between May and September.
It is a very acrobatic species and the first sign of them can be
splashing which at times can be seen from a couple of miles away.
When close to the boat they will often approach the boat and
bow-ride. The groups seen in local waters usually number 10-50
individuals, however it is possible to see aggregations of 100's
or even 1000's of individuals, especially further offshore.
Common Dolphins feed on Squid and a range of fish species,
including mackerel and herring and can often be seen feeding in
association with gannets. They will often work as a group to round
up schooling fish, to make it easier to catch them. As with all
toothed cetaceans they use their teeth to grasp prey, but in
general swallow them whole.
Despite being one of the planets most numerous cetacean species
with an estimated population of several hundred thousand, the
worldwide Common Dolphin population is decreasing. This is due to
accidental capture in fishing gear, pollution and lack of food due