Cornforth Images

Spinner Dolphin

The spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) is a small dolphin found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is famous for its acrobatic displays in which they will spin longitudinally along their axis as they leap through the air. Spinner dolphins are dark gray, with darker patches in the tail stock, back and throat. Usually they have a creamy-white patch on the belly though this varies considerably. Their beak is distinctively long and thin, with a dark tip. The fins too are lengthy for dolphins of this size. The dorsal fin is erect and even leans forward in older males found in the eastern Pacific.

Spinners congregate in groups that vary from just a few dolphins to great schools numbering in the thousands. They are consistently acrobatic and keen bow-riders. The reason for the animal’s spinning is not known. One suggestion is that the great cauldron of bubbles created on exit and re-entry may act as a target for echolocation by other individuals in the school. It may also be simply play-acting. Individuals have been spotted completing at least 14 spinning jumps in quick succession.

Click on one of the following links to see images of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, Orcas (killer whales), or return to the main dolphins gallery.

Terms: Spinner Dolphin, Dolphin jumping, Dolphin photos, Dolphins swimming, Dolphin stock photography