Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Stenella coeruleoalba is a toothed whale and can be recognised as such by the single blowhole and the presence of teeth (rather than baleen). It is a member of the dolphin family with a characteristic prominent median notch in the flukes, a smooth crease-less throat and sharply pointed teeth. The striped dolphin reaches up to 2.6 m in length. It has long and slender flippers and small tail flukes. The dorsal fin is tall and narrow-based and located on the middle of the back. The head is smoothly sloping with a distinct snout. It has a complex colour pattern, with shades of black to dark grey on the back changing sharply to light grey on the sides and white underneath. It has a prominent black stripe that runs from the eye to the anus, and usually other shorter black stripes originating at the eye.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found in the western English Channel and off the south west coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution



The striped dolphin is an oceanic species, found down to several hundred metres, but may occasionally come close to shore in deeper areas.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Up to 2.6 m in length.
  • Tall, narrow-based dorsal fin located on the middle of the back.
  • Dorsally dark grey to black, laterally light grey and ventrally white in colour with a black anal area.
  • Black lines running from eye, one of which runs continuously to the anus.
  • Short slender flippers.
  • Gently sloping head with a moderately long beak.
  • Straight mouthline.

Additional information

Striped dolphins are usually found in large pods of up to 500 individuals. Mixed schools with other species have been recorded. Their surface behaviour is typical of dolphins with leaps and bow-riding a common sight. Dives may last up to 20 minutes long (Kinze, 2002).


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  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Jefferson, T.A., Leatherwood, S. & Webber, M.A., 1994. FAO species identification guide. Marine mammals of the world. Rome: United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

  4. Kinze, C. C., 2002. Photographic Guide to the Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Reid. J.B., Evans. P.G.H., Northridge. S.P. (ed.), 2003. Atlas of Cetacean Distribution in North-west European Waters. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee.


  1. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-38

  2. Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, 2018. Visual sightings data set 2003-2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  3. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. Isle of Wight Notable Species. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  4. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  5. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-28

  6. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Vertebrates (except birds, INNS and restricted records), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  7. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Mammals (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.

  8. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service., 2017. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) Dataset. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.

  9. Whale and Dolphin Conservation, 2018. WDC Shorewatch Sightings. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Stenella coeruleoalba Striped dolphin. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 28-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 02/06/2008