Stenella frontalis

Spotted dolphins are characterised by their colouration and patterns of spots which vary with geographical location and age. The spots, which are absent at birth, build up over time so that adults usually have a dense covering of spots.

Two species of spotted dolphin exist: the Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), which is spread throughout tropical to subtropical areas of the world’s oceans, and Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), which is confined to the tropical to subtropical waters of the Atlantic ocean (it is this latter species that we observe here in the Azores).

Atlantic spotted dolphins are typically seen in the Azores from June and November/December, with the highest sighting rates being around August, when the water is warmest.  During warmer years, we have seen small groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins that remain here throughout January to early February.

During the colder months, this species leaves the waters of the Azores and head further south to warmer waters. In the Azores, Atlantic spotted dolphins are usually seen in large groups numbering up to several hundreds or thousands that often mix together with common dolphins  and sometimes bottlenose dolphins.

Atlantic spotted dolphins travel in long, low leaps and often approach boats from a distance to ride in their bow.

Video Footage

Species Details


Male: 2.3 m
Female: 2.3 m
Calf: 0.8 – 1.3 m


Male: 140 kg
Female: 130 kg

Species Specs:

Global population: Unknown (population trend unknown)
Status: Data Deficient
Diet: Small schooling fish, squid
Teeth: 120 – 168
Longevity: Unknown
Breeding age: 6 – 8 years
Gestation: 9 – 11 months
Nursing: 1 – 2 years

In other languages:

Portuguese: Golfinho-pintado
Spanish: Delfín moteado del Atlántico
French: Dauphin tacheté de l’Atlantique
Italian: Stenella maculata atlantica
German: Fleckendelfin/Zügeldelfin
Dutch: Atlantische vlekdolfijn, Atlantische gevlekte dolfijn
Swedish: Betseldelfin, atlantisk fläckigdelfin
Norwegian: Atlantiske flekket delfin
Danish: Atlantisk plettet delfin
Finnish: Atlantintäplädelfiini
Polish: Delfin plamiasta


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