Delphinus capensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Delphinidae

Scientific Name: Delphinus capensis Gray, 1828
Common Name(s):
English Long-beaked Common Dolphin
French Dauphin Commun A Bec Large
Spanish Delfín Común A Pico Largo
Delphinus bairdii Dall, 1873
Delphinus tropicalis Van Bree, 1971
Taxonomic Notes: Some researchers consider the geographic form of the lLng-beaked Common Dolphin in the Indo-Pacific with an exceptionally long beak to be a separate species, D. tropicalis (e.g., Van Bree and Gallagher 1978; Rice 1998). However, a recent morphometric study has suggested that it is probably a subspecies of D. capensis (Jefferson and Van Waerebeek 2002). If the latter view is correct (and most current data seem to support it), there would be two subspecies, D. c. capensis in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and D. c. tropicalis in the Indo-Pacific.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B.
Reviewer(s): Rojas-Bracho, L. & Smith, B.D. (Cetacean Red List Authority)
Although the species is widespread and its aggregate abundance probably numbers in the high tens or low hundreds of thousands, in several areas (most notably West Africa, the east and west coasts of South America and East Asia) there are known incidental and directed takes of unknown, but possibly large, magnitude, making it difficult to make a reliable assessment of the impact on the species. Therefore, the Long-beaked Common Dolphin is listed as Data Deficient
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Long-beaked common dolphins generally occur within about 180 km of the coast. The overall distribution of this species remains imperfectly known, because until 1994, all common dolphins around the world were classified as a single species: D. delphis (Heyning and Perrin 1994).

There are two subspecies recognized:

D. c. capensis – This subspecies appears to be found in distinct areas and apparently-disjunct subpopulations are known from the east coast of South America, West Africa, southern Japan, Korea and northern Taiwan (and possibly China), central California to southern Mexico, Peru, and South Africa.

D. c. tropicalis – This subspecies ranges in the Indo-Pacific from at least the Red Sea/Somalia to western Taiwan/southern China and Indonesia, and including the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Thailand (Jefferson and Van Waerebeek 2002).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Brazil; Chile; China; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Gabon; Guyana; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Madagascar; Malaysia; Mauritania; Mexico (Baja California, Sinaloa, Sonora); New Zealand; Oman; Pakistan; Peru; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; United States (California); Uruguay; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam; Western Sahara; Yemen
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – eastern central; Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – eastern central; Pacific – western central; Pacific – southeast
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no estimates of global abundance for D. capensis and few local abundance estimates. Off California, USA, at the northern part of this species' range, abundance estimates have ranged from about 11,000 to 49,000, averaging about 22,000 (CV = 50%) dolphins between 1999 and 2005 (Barlow and Forney, in press). Dolphins found off California are part of a larger population extending southward through Mexico, where Gerrodette and Palacios (1996) estimated 55,000 within Pacific coast waters of the Mexican EEZ and 69,000 in the Gulf of California. One relatively well-studied variant of the long-beaked form is the Baja neritic race, which is found in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), Mexico, and the coastal warm-temperate eastern North Pacific, north of 20°N. About 15,000-20,000 are estimated to occur off South Africa (Cockcroft and Peddemors 1990). The tropicalis subspecies is widespread in the Indian and western Pacific oceans, but there are no estimates of abundance for any portion of its range.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Long-beaked common dolphins inhabit tropical and warm-temperate waters of all three major oceans. D. capensis seems to prefer shallower and warmer water and occurs generally closer to the coast than does D. delphis (Perrin 2002). It is found mostly over continental shelf water depths (< 180 m), and generally does not occur around oceanic islands far from mainland coasts (Jefferson and Van Waerebeek 2002). It sometimes associate with other species of cetaceans.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is directed take of this species in certain areas for human food, and as bait in fisheries.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Long-beaked common dolphin are known to be taken in bottom-set gillnets and purse seine fisheries off southern California, but potential impacts are uncertain. Some bycatch has also been documented in drift gillnets off California (Carretta et al. 2005). They are only occasionally involved as bycatch in the eastern tropical Pacific tuna fishery. They are present off Japan, and some have been taken in drive fisheries there. There are anecdotal reports of potentially large numbers of dolphins, including long-beaked common dolphins, killed for bait in some coastal fisheries off Baja California, Mexico (K. Forney pers. comm.). Long-beaked common dolphins have been taken opportunistically by harpoon in northeastern Taiwan and are caught incidentally by oceanic driftnets off eastern Taiwan (J. Wang pers. comm.). There is a large direct kill around Margarita Island, off eastern Venezuela, in which dolphins are harpooned in large numbers (Romero et al. 2001). In the Indian Ocean and Chinese waters, they are taken in gillnets, trawls, and purse seines. There is growing concern about the large numbers of long-beaked common dolphins killed off Peru and used for human food or shark bait (K. Van Waerebeek pers. comm.). Incidental catches of Delphinus sp. in pelagic driftnets in southern and south-eastern Brazil have been recorded (Zerbini and Kotas 1998), but no current estimates of bycatch are available. Given that this fishery occurs in the presumed range of the species, some of these individuals may belong to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES. Vessel quotas for incidental take for Delphinus sp. are issued under an international agreement managed by the IATTC for the eastern tropical Pacific.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Food - animal
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Barlow, J. and Forney, K. A. 2007. Abundance and density of cetaceans in the California Current ecosystem. Fishery Bulletin 105(4): 509-526.

Carretta, J. V., Price, T., Petersen, D. and Read, R. 2005. Estimates of marine mammal, sea turtle, and seabird mortality in the California drift gillnet fishery for swordfish and thresher shark, 1996-2002. Marine Fisheries Review 66(2): 21-30.

Cockcroft, V. G. and Peddemors, V. M. 1990. Seasonal distribution and density of common dolphins Delphinus delphis of the south-east coast of southern Africa. South African Journal of Marine Science 9: 371-377.

Gerrodette, T. and Palacios, D. M. 1996. Estimates of cetacean abundance in EEZ waters of the eastern tropical Pacific. Southwest Fisheries Science Center Administrative Report LJ-96-10.

Heyning, J. E. and Perrin, W. F. 1994. Evidence for two species of common dolphins (genus Delphinus) from the eastern North Pacific. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Contributions in Science 442: 35.

Jefferson, T. A. and Van Waerebeek, K. 2002. The taxonomic status of the nominal dolphin species Delphinus tropicalis van Bree, 1971. Marine Mammal Science 18(4): 787-818.

Perrin, W. F. 2002. Common dolphins Delphinus delphis, D. capensis, and D. tropicalis. In: W. F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen (eds), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, pp. 245-248. Academic Press.

Rice, D.W. 1998. Marine Mammals of the World: Systematics and Distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Lawrence, Kansas.

Romero, A., Agudo, I. A., Green, S. M. and Notarbartolo Di Sciara, G. 2001. Cetaceans of Venezuela: Their distribution and conservation status. NOAA Technical Report NMFS 151: 60 pp.

Van Bree, P. J. H. and Gallagher, M. D. 1978. On the taxonomic status of Delphinus tropicalis van Bree, 1971 (Notes on Cetacea, Delphinoidea IX). Beaufortia 28: 1-8.

Zerbini, A. N. and Kotas, J. E. 1998. A note on cetacean bycatch in pelagic driftnetting off southern Brazil. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 48: 519-524.

Citation: Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. 2008. Delphinus capensis. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T6337A12663800. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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