Marine Mammal Spotlight - Common Dolphins

Common dolphins have a distinctive creamy yellow hourglass pattern along their sides, with a dark grey back, tail and flippers along with a cream coloured belly. Their beak is relatively long and slender.

Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

Adult common dolphins measure between 1.7 to 2.7 metres long and weigh about 150kgs. Their lifespan is thought to be between 25-30 years.

 Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

Worldwide, there are currently two species of common dolphins recognised by scientists – short-beaked (Delphinus delphis) and long-beaked (Delphinus capensis).

Common dolphins are very acrobatic and can be at times be seen leaping clear out of the water. Their high-pitched vocalisations can, at times be heard by humans above the surface of the water. These dolphins are inquisitive and sociable animals and often approach boats to ride the bow wave.


Common dolphin leaping out of the water in Kaikōura, NZ. Photo Credit: Rob Pine

Photo Credit: Rob Pine

Common dolphins are thought to be one of the most abundant cetacean species, with population estimates suggesting that there up to several hundred thousand of them globally. However, with all marine mammals these dolphins too are subject to the same threats as others such as pollution and degradation of the marine environment. Injury from boat strike is also a threat especially with their like of bow riding, along with decreasing food source due to over-fishing.

Common dolphins in Kaikōura, New Zealand

Inland Road Route 70 between Christchurch (via Waiau) to Kaikōura is OPEN 24/7.

Please drive to the conditions & visit for more information.