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Animals

Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

17 Commerson's Dolphin Facts You’ll Never Forget

Commerson's dolphin facts like they are a predatory species are interesting.

Commerson’s Dolphins are one of the four dolphins from the Cephalorhynchus genus. Also known as the Piebald Dolphin or Skunk Dolphin, the Commerson’s Dolphin are known to have a very distinctive patterning. They have a black head, fluke, and dorsal fin along with a white body and throat. Both the colors have been clear-cut defined. Their dorsal fin comes with a straight, long leading edge ending in a curved tip. There is a notch in the middle of a fluke. The Commerson’s Dolphin doesn’t have a beak. The main subspecies can be found near the Falkland Islands and in the Strait of Magellan, Puerto Deseado, around Tierra del Fuego, all located in Argentina, the coast of South America. Others can be found around the Kerguelen Islands. There are two subspecies of Commerson's Dolphins, C.c.commersonii and C.c.kerguelenensis.

The size and shape of the Commerson’s Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersonii, are very stocky and it grows to about 1.5 m. To a novice, they might look like a porpoise, but their conspicuous behavior is representative of a dolphin.

The Commerson’s Dolphins, which were first found in the Strait of Magellan, are very active. You can often see them rapidly swimming on the surface and then leaping from the water. They can also twist and spin while swimming and might surf on the breaking waves as they reach close to the shore. Also, they bow ride and swim after fast-moving boats. Read on to learn more about them.

You may also check out the fact files on the harbour porpoise and ringed seal from Kidadl.


Commerson's Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Commerson's dolphin?

Commerson’s Dolphins are small black and white colored dolphins named after the French Naturalist, Dr. Philibert Commerson, who first sighted them in the Strait of Magellan, the tip of South America, and described them in 1767. They are mostly found in South America and around the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean.

What class of animal does a Commerson's dolphin belong to?

The two subspecies of Commerson's Dolphins belong to the class mammals. The characteristics of this class are that they breathe air using their lungs, they are warm-blooded, they bear live young, they nurse their young with their milk, and they have hair in at least one stage of their development.

How many Commerson's dolphins are there in the world?

The exact worldwide Commerson’s Dolphin population is unknown. In fact, population trends and numbers are poorly known for several ocean animal species.

Where does a Commerson's dolphin live?

The Commerson’s Dolphin can be found living in cold inshore waters near open coasts including sheltered fjords, river mouths, harbors, and even lower reaches of rivers. They are commonly sighted in South America and the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean.

What is a Commerson's dolphin's habitat?

The Commerson’s Dolphin habitat is open coasts. Marine life depends on the saltwater present in the sea. The marine habitat is divided into the open ocean and coastal habitats. Open ocean habitats is the one found in the deep ocean that's beyond the continental shelf's edge. The coastal habitat is the one extending from the edge of the continental shelf to as far as the tide comes on the shoreline. Even though the shelf area makes up to be only 7% of the ocean area, most of the marine life is in the coastal habitat.

Who do Commerson's dolphins live with?

Commerson’s Dolphins are often found living in a group of two to three animals or alone. Occasionally, they are spotted in a larger group that has somewhere between 20-30 dolphins.

How long does a Commerson's dolphin live?

The Commerson’s Dolphin lifespan is about 10 years in the wild. The oldest individual found in the wild was 18 years old. One wild-born dolphin lived for at least 33 years in captivity. However, the maximum longevity of the Commerson’s Dolphin is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

Commerson’s Dolphins from Kerguelen areas and South America differ in their age of sexual maturity. A female Commerson’s Dolphin from South America will reach sexual maturity and be able to bear a calf at the age of five to eight years. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of five to six years old. However, a female Commerson’s Dolphin from the Kerguelen population will reach sexual maturity at the age of five years whereas a male will reach sexual maturity at the age of eight years.

The mating occurs during the spring and summer seasons. After a gestation period of 11 months, calving occurs.

What is their conservation status?

Because of Data Deficiency (inadequate data for determining the threat category), there is no exact number of Commerson’s Dolphins, Cephalorhynchus commersonii, available. However, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they are under the Least Concern category.

Commerson's Dolphin Fun Facts

What do Commerson's dolphins look like?

The Commerson’s Dolphin, which was first found in the Strait of Magellan (tip of South America), is a small and chubby dolphin that has a cone-shaped head and no beak. The Commerson's dolphin has 29-30 teeth on each side of both the lower and upper jaw (with 116-120 teeth in total). The most obvious feature they have is their sharp white and black markings. The Commerson's Dolphin anatomy, including the belly and back, is mainly white along with their throat. However, their heads, flippers, faces, tail, and dorsal fin are black.

The babies of Commerson’s Dolphins, Cephalorhynchus commersonii, are brown, black, or gray. As they grow older, they develop vivid markings and change color. Juveniles are gray and black whereas the adults are white and black.

The largest population of the Commerson’s Dolphin is the one living near the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian ocean that can grow up to 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) long. The population from South America can grow up to 4 ft 8 in (1.46 m). The weight of both populations also differs. The Kerguelen population can weigh up to 86 kg whereas the South American population weighs about 45 kg.

Commerson's Dolphins are black and white in color.

How cute are they?

With their black and white appearance, the Commerson’s Dolphins do have a fun and cute appearance. They are friendly mammals who are a favorite of many.

How do they communicate?

Named after French Naturalist, Dr. Philibert Commerson, the Commerson’s Dolphin sound is created by letting the air move between their nasal sacs present in the blowhole region. Their larynx doesn’t have any vocal cords. Instead, they have a tissue complex in their nasal region known as the dorsal bursa which is the site of sound production.

The sounds made by a Commerson’s Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersonii, are inaudible to us. They continually vocalize producing a high-frequency and narrowband pulse of somewhere between 125-135 Hz. This range is not only beyond human hearing but also over the frequency range for some other dolphins. In order to hear their vocalizations, humans will have to slow them down at least eight times. These high-frequency pulses are used by Commerson's dolphin underwater for echolocation. In fact, the pulsed call is among the most common vocalization used by the wild Commerson’s Dolphin or the Panda Dolphin. Experts believe that these calls help them in coordinating their behavior and in Commerson's Dolphin herding method.

How big is a Commerson's dolphin?

Commerson’s Dolphins are some of the smallest dolphins in the world. Their average length is about 3.9-5.6 ft (1.2-1.7 m). The females of the species are larger than the males. The newborn calves are about 21.7-25.6 inches (55-65 cm) in length.

How fast can a Commerson's dolphin swim?

Also known as a Panda Dolphin, Commerson’s Dolphins are known to be highly maneuverable and very fast cetaceans that swim regularly at the speed of 7-8 mph (11-12 kph).

How much does a Commerson's dolphin weigh?

The weight of a Commerson’s Dolphin can be somewhere between 77-132 lb (35-60 kg). A calf weighs about 10-12 lb (4.5-5.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male dolphin is known as a bull whereas a female dolphin is known as a cow. A group of dolphins is called a pod.

What would you call a baby Commerson's dolphin?

Baby Commerson’s Dolphins are called calves.

What do they eat?

Commerson’s Dolphins are active predators that eat a wide range of food from the seafloor as well as open water. They eat different types of small fishes along with invertebrates such as squid, cuttlefish, crab, shrimp, and krill. However, they don’t chew their food. In most cases, they swallow their food whole.

Commerson’s Dolphins have a high energy requirement. Adult dolphins can eat 10% of their body weight daily in food.

Are they friendly?

Commerson’s Dolphins are known to be very friendly and social mammals. Even though they are often seen swimming behind boats, it is important to remember that they are a predatory species and should be treated as such.

Would they make a good pet?

Commerson’s Dolphins are apex predators that can even kill sharks. They can be aggressive at times and can hurt whales and dolphins. So, they are not very good pets.

Did you know...

That Commerson’s Dolphins have body hair. The newborn calves are born with hairs on their beak or rostrum that fall out after birth. Experts believe that this is an evolutionary remnant from when these dolphins lived on land.

Are Commerson's dolphins playful?

Commersonii Commerson’s Dolphins are playful and social animals. It is because of their playful and social nature that they can be trained to surf in the waves and swim through rings.

How do Commerson's dolphins hunt?

Commerson’s Dolphins, C. Commersonii, hunt at night. To locate their prey, they use echolocation. They might also swim upside down to get better visual tracking. Since they hunt as a group, they are able to herd fish which makes it easy for them to scoop them up. An adult Commerson’s Dolphin can eat about 10% of its body weight daily. This is twice the amount that other dolphin species eat. The reason behind this is that their metabolic rate is twice or thrice the metabolic rate of other species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our spinner dolphin surprising facts, and false killer whale fun facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free commerson's dolphin coloring pages.

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