Lagenorhynchus acutus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Delphinidae

Scientific Name: Lagenorhynchus acutus
Species Authority: (Gray, 1828)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Atlantic White-sided Dolphin
Spanish Delfín De Costados Blancos, Delfín De Costados Blancos, Delfín De Flancos Blancos, Delfín De Flancos Blancos
French Lagénorhynque À Flanc Blanc De L'Atlantique, Dauphin À Flancs Blancs
Taxonomic Notes: The Atlantic White-sided Dolphin is currently placed in a multi-species genus (Cipriano 1997). However, molecular analyses suggest that it is not closely-related to any of those other species, and it is possible that it will be split-off from them into its own genus (Leucopleurus) in the next few years (LeDuc et al. 1999, Harlin-Cognato and Honeycutt 2006)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern 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)
The species is widespread and abundant (with current population estimates exceeding 100,000) and there have been no reported population declines or major threats identified.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Atlantic white-sided dolphins are found in cold temperate to subpolar waters of the North Atlantic, from about 38°N (south of Cape Cod) in the west and the Brittany coast of France in the east, north to southern Greenland, Iceland, and southern Svalbard (Reeves et al. 1999; Cipriano 2002). The range includes the U.K. and the northern coasts of Scandinavia, although they rarely enter the Baltic Sea. They also sometimes move quite far up the Saint Lawrence River of eastern Canada, and they have been seen as far south as Strait of Gibraltar (Hashmi and Adloff 1991, 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Belgium; Canada; Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Netherlands; Norway; Russian Federation; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States
Gibraltar; Portugal; Spain
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – northwest
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is quite abundant throughout its range. There are an estimated 51,640 (CV=38%) Atlantic white-sided dolphins off the eastern North American shoreline (Waring et al. 2006) and about 96,000 (CV=54%) off the west coast of Scotland (MacLeod 2004). The number of Atlantic white-sided dolphins in the western North Atlantic, from the southern Gulf of Maine and north-eastward on the continental shelf and slope to Cabot Strait was about 27,000 in July - September 1995 (Palka et al. 1997) and was at least 11,740 (CV = 47%) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Kingsley and Reeves, 1998). There is currently little evidence for separate subpopulations (Mikkelsen and Lund 1994).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is found primarily in waters of the continental shelf and slope, but it also occurs in oceanic waters across the North Atlantic. Along the continental slope of North America, it seems to associate with high sea-bed relief along the continental shelf (Palka et al. 1997).

These dolphins often associate and feed with large baleen whales (fin and humpback whales), and are known to form mixed groups with pilot whales and a number of other dolphin species (including bottlenose and white-beaked dolphins). Atlantic white-sided dolphins feed mostly on small schooling fish (such as herring, mackerel, cod, smelt, hake, and sandlance), shrimp, and squid.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for food in Canada, Greenland and the Faroes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Some hunting for this species occurred in the past, especially in Norway. Some dolphins are still taken in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and eastern Canada (Jefferson et al. 1993; Reeves et al. 1999). Recent catches in Faroe Islands were 333 and 310 in 2004 and 2005, respectively (NAMMCO 2005). No assessment is associated with the Faroese hunting of white-sided dolphins, but there is no evidence that this aspect of the drive fishery has a long history, such as that of the pilot whale component (Reeves et al. 2003).

Incidental mortality in fishing gear has been documented off Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Gaskin (1992) judged Atlantic white-sided dolphins to be less vulnerable to capture in pelagic near-surface drift nets and fixed groundfish gill nets than are many other small cetaceans. They may, however, be especially susceptible to capture in midwater trawl nets (Addink et al. 1997). Substantial numbers have been bycaught in pelagic trawl fisheries for horse mackerel and mackerel south-west of Ireland (Reeves et al. 1999).

Morizur et al. (1999) investigated marine mammal bycatch in 11 pelagic trawl fisheries operated by four different countries in the Northeast Atlantic. One of the main marine mammal species identified in bycatches was L. acutus. Mean dolphin catch rate for all fisheries combined was 0.048+0.013 per tow (one dolphin per 20.7 tows), or 0.0185+0.0019 per hour of towing (one dolphin per 98 h of towing). All dolphin by-catches occurred during the night. White-sided dolphins were observed feeding around the net during towing; this behaviour may make them more vulnerable to capture. Operational difficulties in observing bycatch and potentially significant annual fluctuation in catch rates warrant further observer studies of these and other trawl fisheries. Substantial numbers have been by-caught in trawl fisheries south-west of Ireland (Couperus 1997a, b), and takes have also been recorded in gill-net and trawl fisheries along the US Atlantic coast (Waring et al. 2008).

Like other North Atlantic marine mammals, Atlantic white-sided dolphins are contaminated by organochlorines, other anthropogenic compounds and heavy metals (Reeves et al. 1999); although the effects of pollutants are not well understood in this species, they may affect reproduction or render them susceptible to other mortality factors.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

Existing direct takes are currently not regulated by any hunting quotas. Operational difficulties in observing bycatch and potentially significant annual fluctuation in catch rates warrant further observer studies of these and other trawl fisheries (Morizur et al. 1999; Waring et al. 2006). The impact of combined anthropogenic removals should be assessed.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
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
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 -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

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

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Addink, M., Garcia Hartman, M. and Couperus, B. 1997. A note on life-history parameters of the atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) from animals caught in the Northeastern Atlantic. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 637-640.

Cipriano, F. 1997. Antiropical distributions and speciation in dolphins of the genus Lagenorhynchus: a preliminary analysis. In: A. E. Dizon, S. J. Chivers and W. F. Perrin (eds), Molecular genetics of marine mammals, Special Publication, pp. 305-316. The Society of Marine Mammalogy.

Cipriano, F. 2002. Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus. In: W. F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen (eds), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, pp. 49-51. Academic Press.

Couperus, A. S. 1997. By-catch of Marine Mammals and Discards in Pelagic Fisheries. Report by the Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research (RIVO-DLO) to the European Commission. European Commission.

Couperus, A. S. 1997. Interactions between Dutch midwater trawl and Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) southwest of Ireland. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 22: 209-218.

Gaskin, D. E. 1992. Status of the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus, in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 106: 64-72.

Harlin-Cognato, A. D. and Honeycutt, R. L. 2006. Multi-locus phylogeny of dolphins in the subfamily Lissodelphininae: Character synergy improves phylogenetic resolution. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6(1): 87.

Hashmi, D. and Adloff, B. 1991. Surface frequency of cetaceans in the Strait of Gibraltar. In: P. G. H. Evans (ed.), European Research on Cetaceans. 5. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. Sandefjord, Norway.

Hashmi, D. and Adloff, B. 1992. Cetacean research in the Strait of Gibraltar. In: J. J. Symoens (ed.), Whales: Biology, Threats, Conservation, Proceedings of a Symposium held in Brussels, 5-7 June 1991, pp. 59-62. Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.

Jefferson, T. A., Leatherwood, S. and Webber, M. A. 1993. Marine Mammals of the World: FAO Species Identification Guide. United Nation Environment Programme and Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN.

Kingsley, M. C. S. and Reeves, R. R. 1998. Aerial surveys of cetaceans in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1995 and 1996. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76: 1529-1550.

Leduc, R. G., Perrin, W. F. and Dizon, A. E. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships among the delphinid cetaceans based on full cytochrome b sequences. Marine Mammal Science 15: 619-648.

Macleod, K. 2004. Abundance of Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus) during summer off northwest Scotland. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 6(1): 33-40.

Mikkelsen, A. M. and Lund, A. 1994. Intraspecific variation in the dolphins Lagenorhynchus albirostris and L. acutus (Mammalia: Cetacea) in metrical and non-metrical skull characters, with remarks on occurrence. Journal of Zoology (London) 234: 289-299.

Morizur, Y., Berrow, S. D., Tregenza, N. J., Couperus, A. S. and Pouvreau, S. 1999. Incidental catches of marine mammals in pelagic trawl fisheries of the northeast Atlantic. Fisheries Research, Amsterdam 41: 297-307.

North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission. 2005. NAMMCO Annual Report 2005. North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission, Tromsø, Norway.

Palka, D., Read, A. and Potter, C. 1997. Summary of knowledge of white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) from US and Canadian Atlantic waters. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 729-734.

Reeves, R. R., Smeenk, C., Brownell Jr., R. L. and Kinze, C. C. 1999. Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus (Gray, 1828). In: S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds), Handbook of marine mammals, Vol. 6: The second book of dolphins and the porpoises, pp. 31-56. Academic Press.

Reeves, R. R., Smith, B. D., Crespo, E. A. and Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. 2003. Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises: 2002-2010 Conservation Action Plan for the World's Cetaceans. IUCN/SSC Cetacean Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Waring, G. T., Josephson, E., Fairfield, C. P. and Maze-Foley, K. (eds). 2006. U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico marine mammal stock assessments - 2005. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE, pp. 346 pp..

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. Lagenorhynchus acutus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11141A3255721. . Downloaded on 22 January 2017.
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