Atlantic White Sided Dolphin

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus, inhabits subpolar areas of the North Atlantic Ocean, from Cape Cod to Newfoundland, to Greenland and the North Sea, and south to Brittany, France. It has a distinctive white to pale yellow stripe on each side, and its dorsal fin is pointed, which is referenced in its scientific name, acutus. Despite being hunted extensively in the past, and less so now, it is fairly common in its range and is not in immediate danger of extinction.

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin is larger than most tropical dolphins, reaching a length of 2.8 meters (9.2 ft) and weighing 200-230 kg (441-507 lbs) fully grown. Unlike the grayish-brown tropical dolphins, such as the bottlenose or the spotted dolphin, this species has a distinctive pattern that features a white belly, a black back and tail, and a white stripe on its side that turns to yellow on its flank. Its coloration bears some resemblance to that of the Hourglass Dolphin, Heaviside's Dolphin, and Peale's Dolphin, which are southern hemisphere dolphins whose range is far distant from the North Atlantic.

Atlantic white-sided dolphins are rarely seen close to shore. They eat squid, shrimp and various schooling fish, such as herring, mackerel and smelt. They travel in pods of about 60 and sometimes approach boats to bowride. They are known to mix with baleen whales, such as humpbacks and fin whales, and with other dolphin species, and they are preyed upon by orcas. They have an estimated life span of about 25 years.

They used to be hunted extensively, and are still hunted in the Faroe Islands (an autonomous province of Denmark), which caught as many as 774 in 2002. There are estimated to be no fewer than 100,000 of these dolphins, and populations may be much higher. They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

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