Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
The Atlantic spotted dolphin is so named because it is a species of dolphin found primarily in the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic Ocean. As they get older, their bodies become covered in distinctive white spots which make them easy to tell apart from any other dolphin species.
Atlantic spotted dolphin calves are born grey with white bellies, with no individual patterns or markings. As they grow older, spots begin to form all over their bodies. They gain dark spots on their bellies and light spots on their backs so that when they reach full maturity they appear to be black with white spots all over. The calves are born measuring just 2 feet long. As they mature, females and males alike will grow up to 7 and a half feet in length and will weigh roughly 300 lb.
Along with most other dolphin species, Atlantic spotted dolphins can swim incredibly fast and cover huge distances in a day. They frequently ride the bow waves of passing boats and ships, putting on impressive acrobatic displays as they leap out of the water.
Atlantic spotted dolphins are most commonly sighted in the Gulf Stream between Florida and Bermuda. Tourists can take trips from the Bahamas to swim with wild dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins regularly feature as part of the trip. They are also easy to see in the Gulf of Mexico, with dolphin-watching vessels and divers commonly reporting sightings of Atlantic spotted dolphins.
As you move further East, sightings become less regular, although there have been quite a few reports of groups of Atlantic spotted dolphins living off the coast of Africa, the Azores and the Canary Islands.
Although in some parts of the world Atlantic spotted dolphins are targeted by harpoon fisherman, they are not an endangered species and their numbers are stable. They are not a conservation priority as they tend to live in areas which are not threatened by overfishing and they are rarely caught up in trawling nets. They do live in areas where tourism could be affecting their chances of survival. In areas where tours are run to swim with wild dolphins they have become very used to human contact and this could make them an easier target for those fishermen who do target them deliberately.
Despite this, there numbers do actually seem to be rising in tourist destinations. 20 years ago there were only 80 Atlantic spotted dolphins recorded to be living off the coast of the Bahamas, now upwards of 200 of them are found in the same area.
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin