Top 10 Common Dolphin Facts

Get the lowdown on these graceful marine mammals with our top 10 interesting facts!

Here in the beautiful Bay of Islands, we are lucky to have large populations of both common and bottlenose dolphins visit our waters on virtually a daily basis. Our crew members are all experienced locals who are experts in recognising these frequent visitors, and understanding their behaviour.

So that you can identify them during your dolphin watching cruise or dolphin eco experience, here are some handy facts about our friends the common dolphins - although we think you'll agree they are anything but 'common'!

1. The common dolphins (delphinus delphis ) we see in New Zealand waters belong to the short-beaked common dolphin species.

2. You can recognise common dolphins by their tall dorsal fins, grey backs and pale side patches that form a distinctive ‘hourglass’ pattern. They’re also a little smaller than bottlenose dolphins, reaching sizes of 1.7-2.4m and weighing 70-110kg.

3. Common dolphins form large schools, sometimes including up to several thousand individuals.

4. They are friendly creatures, sometimes spending time with schools of pilot whales as well other dolphin species.

5. Common dolphins are abundant here in the Bay of Islands region (as are bottlenose dolphins), but we don’t have a precise population estimate.

6. They’re not picky eaters - common dolphins go after a variety of prey, including surface schooling fish, small mid-water fish and squid.

7. They’re good team players and often hunt together in schools.

8.  Common dolphins can dive to depths of up to 280 metres when hunting, and spend up to 8 minutes underwater (although their dives usually last between 10 seconds and 2 minutes).

9. They are also skilled acrobats, leaping and frolicking in the waves. Make sure you have your camera at the ready during your Bay of Islands cruise so you can capture their amazing antics!

10. Their main predators are orca (also known as killer whales) so if you see orca in the Bay, you can expect that the dolphins will be far away!

There you have it - whether you're watching dolphins in the beautiful Bay of Islands or elsewhere, you now know all about common dolphins. You can learn about bottlenose dolphins here.

Fullers GreatSights Bay of Islands is proud to be licensed by DOC to interact with dolphins and other marine mammals. Find out more about Bay of Islands wildlife and Bay of Islands cruises.

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