Scientific Name: Lagenorhynchus acutus Size: up to 9’ Weight: approximately 500lb Status: Least Concern (not endangered)
While seeing toothed whales isn’t an everyday thing, it’s not exactly rare either. The most common toothed whale we see is the Atlantic White Sided Dolphin. This is a cold water species so we generally see them more frequently in the cooler months like in early spring and late fall. These guys are so much fun to spend time with. They’re often times in a playful mood and will ride our wake, zip around under the bow, leap completely out of the water, and I’ve even seen quite of a few of them do some tail slapping which is pretty cool to see.
These dolphins are grey in color with white bellies and they have white and tan stripes that run down both sides of their bodies. Like other toothed whales, these dolphins travel in groups called pods and these pods can range anywhere from just a few individuals to several hundred or even a thousand or more! In my experience, generally when we see these dolphins it’s usually around 50-100 individuals. Often times these pods will also include several mom and calf pairs too. The calves are so small at birth that they’re referred to as little footballs and as they travel along they’ll generally stay very close to mom’s side.
These dolphins love to ride the wake of boats and even larger whales! They can often times be seen traveling with the much larger baleen whales like Finback and Humpback Whales, although more so with Finbacks. It appears that they likely do this to take advantage of the larger whales feeding attempts and will consume the fish that the larger whales miss. The larger whales don’t seem to keen on the strategy and sometimes they appear to be visibly annoyed by the dolphins.
At one point an attempt was made to keep Atlantic White Sided Dolphins in captivity, but that ended up being a failure. While it’s certainly sad for those individuals, for the wild and free dolphins it’s a good thing as it means that further attempts at keeping them in captivity likely won’t happen. Honestly, seeing whales and dolphins living in captivity couldn’t possibly more rewarding than seeing them wild and free in their natural habitat doing as nature intended them to do.
"We owe it to our children to be better stewards of the environment. The alternative? - a world without whales. It's too terrible to imagine." ~ Pierce Brosnan