The striped dolphin is named after its distinctive markings which make it instantly recognizable from other species, even from a relatively long distance. It is a very common dolphin found almost all over the world and has been classified as being at ‘least concern’ in terms of conservation status. It has been estimated that there are currently more than 2 million striped dolphins living in the wild.
Its belly can be blue, white or pink depending on the exact subspecies and the geographical location of the particular population. Several black stripes run down the length of the body of the dolphin, thickening as they move from the head to the tail. The flanks of the dolphin are light blue or light grey and provide a stark contrast to the black stripes. This gives the dolphin a striking image and makes it incredibly easy to distinguish from other animals of the same name.
The gestation period of the striped dolphin lasts roughly a year and females only calf once every 4 or 5 years. As with most other dolphin species, they give birth to just a single calf each time they deliver. The age of sexual maturity of the female striped dolphin varies according to geographical location. Researchers have found that females become fully fertile at 12 years old in the Mediterranean but at just 9 years old in the Pacific.
The striped dolphin is a very social animal and tends to move in groups of hundreds or thousands of dolphins at a time. Smaller groups are spotted from time to time but these are much rarer than the huge populations which swim together. They can often be seen socializing with other species of dolphin such as the common dolphin and often displays its acrobatic skills to those on board boats and ships creating bow waves.
Striped dolphins feed primarily on small fish and squid which are found in all areas where there are populations of this species. They also hunt for crustaceans, krill and octopus but these are eaten less often than the fish and the squid. The exact diet of the striped dolphin will depend on the area in which it is living. Northeastern Atlantic striped dolphins will eat primarily cod, whilst those dolphins living in the Mediterranean eat squid almost exclusively. Striped dolphins are capable of diving 700m down in order to catch species which live deeper in the ocean.
These dolphins are usually found in temperate and tropical waters which are off-shore. The North and South Atlantic Oceans are home to the most abundant populations of striped dolphins in the world but there are also substantial numbers which live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.