Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is frequently seen in the coastal waters off San Diego. Similar to the Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin but slightly smaller both have beak typed noses and can often be mistaken for porpoises. All dolphins are very social mammals and the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is no exception, traveling in small family pods of a dozen dolphins to larger groups of several hundred. Agile and and energetic, these dolphins enjoy bow riding passing boats and commonly display acrobatic feats leaping, jumping and somersaulting from the water.
The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin easily recognizable for its contrasting white stripes along the sides of their grey-black bodies. Adults reach 6-8 ft in length and weigh up to 300 lbs., they are also carnivores feeding largely at night on squid, sardines and other small fish.
Short Beak Common Dolphin
There are two types of Common Dolphin which belong to the ‘Delphius’ family that include both the Short Beaked Common Dolphin and Long Beaked Common Dolphin. The Short Beaked Common Dolphin is a slightly smaller species of dolphin reaching 5 ft in length and about 250 lbs. and has a white hourglass design of white on either side. Preferring temperate, warm waters, these social species have been known to travel with small whales, such as the Pilot Whale and can live up to 35 years of age. They can live in aggregations of hundreds or even thousands of dolphins, so can it can be spectacular when seen in such numbers.
The Bottlenose Dolphin is by far the most recognizable dolphin on the planet, made easily recognizable by the television show “Flipper.” Friendly and incredibly intelligent the television show did not fictionalize this aspect of their behavior. Bottlenose Dolphins are amicable, eager to please and historically have saved humans from drowning and protected from sharks and other open ocean predators. Some historians believe that ancient stories depicting mermaids were actually dolphins, in most cases the Bottle Nosed Dolphin.
Easy to recognize for their permanent smile and all grey bodies, they are the larger than the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin and can be found in coastal waters across the globe, but prefer warm temperate climates. Back in the 1960s the US Navy developed the Navy Marine Mammal Program in which the dolphins complete complex and sometimes dangerous tasks such as detecting underwater mines, conducting surveillance, delivering needed items and guarding equipment. This program is still underway today in San Diego and it is common to see our enlisted Bottle Nose Dolphins on patrol along the coast and taking time while traveling to enjoy the surf with the locals. It is very common to spot the dolphin boats out on the bay – ask your captain to point them out while on your charter.