Common dolphins can be found in False Bay all year round and are often seen on our dives and boat charters between January and July when they follow schools of their favourite food – small fish such as anchovies and mackrel.
Here’s some interesting facts about common dolphins that you might not have known…
- There are two species of common dolphin – the short-beaked and the long-beaked common dolphin.
- The common dolphins we see in False Bay are the long-beaked species.
- Both common dolphin species range between 1.9m and 2.5m in length and, on average, can weigh between 80 and 150kg.
- Male common dolphins are larger and heavier than the female common dolphins.
- Common dolphins live in warm temperate and tropical waters.
- The long beaked common dolphin tends to inhabit shallow, warm coastal waters and the short-beaked common dolphin are more common along shelf edges and areas of deeper water.
- Common dolphins often live in groups of hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dolphins and can often be found alongside other dolphins, pilot whales and have even been seen bow riding on baleen whales.
- They enjoy bow riding with boats and often come up to us on our way to and from our dive sites in False Bay.
- They are fast swimmers and can reach speeds of up to 60km per hour.
- Females give birth between the ages of 2 and 7 years, depending on location and give birth to a single calf after 10 to 11 months.
- The calves are usually 76 – 86 cm long at birth and weigh approximately 10 kg.
- Common dolphins feed mainly on squid and small schooling fish such as anchovies, mackrel and sardines. When there are many of these fish in False Bay (usually between January and June), we will often see common dolphins.
- Common dolphins often work together to herd schools of fish together and can be seen accompanied by diving birds and feeding whales. They can eat about 5% of their body weight every day.
- Common dolphins are very sociable and thrive on the connections they have with each other. Vocalizations include whistling, whining and clicking. Their language tends to vary from pod to pod.
- The major threats facing common dolphins are human related, the largest being metal and plastic pollutants and thousands have been caught by accident in industrial trawler nets as bycatch.
Be sure to join us on one of our boat charters and see these beautiful dolphins up close