Clymene Dolphin (Stenella clymene)

Also known as Short-snouted Spinner Dolphin, this species is thought to be restricted to tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean (eastern North America across to West Africa), Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. In the United States, this species has been recorded as far north as New Jersey and several strandings have occured in Texas. Live sightings are almost invariably from deep water. This species probably feeds mostly at night when prey species (squid and small fish) rise in the water column. Initially known only from skulls and thought to be a variant of Spinner Dolphin (S. longirostris), Clymene Dolphin was granted full species status as recently as 1981. It remains a poorly known and rarely seen dolphin.

Here are three photos of a small group taken by Kristen Mazzaralla during a Focus on Nature Tours (FONT) trip into the Gulf Stream of North Carolina on the 10th August 1998. Many thanks also to Paul Guris for generously arranging access to these valuable images.

Figure 1. Two individuals approaching the boat. Clymene Dolphin is closely related to Spinner Dolphin but has a shorter beak, more rounded headshape, chunkier body and more hooked (falcated) dorsal fin. Image by Kristen Mazzaralla© 1998, all rights reserved.

Figure 2. This close-up shot shows the identification features nicely. Notice how the boundary between the dark back (cape) and gray flank dips twice - once above the eye and then again below the dorsal fin. Only Common Dolphin shows a sharper dip below the dorsal fin. The eye itself is ringed with black which extends along the gape - a pattern also seen in Common Dolphin. The snout tip (not visible) is usually dark tipped. There is a strong pink flush to the belly but this is variable and the belly can also be white. Image by Kristen Mazzaralla© 1998, all rights reserved.

Figure 3. Distant view of a small group of Clymene Dolphins leaping. This species is reportedly less aerobatic than the closely-related Spinner Dolphin. Even at this distance, we can make out the gentle dip in the dark cape just as it sweeps below the dorsal fin (see right most animal). Image by Kristen Mazzaralla© 1998, all rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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