Dolphins in False Bay


dolphins in false bay

 On the African Shark Eco-Charter Great White Shark trips to Seal Island, Common Dolphins are often seen. People love dolphins and they are held in high regard, it is a common seafaring legend that to kill a Dolphin will bring bad luck to your ship, but spotting a Dolphin riding in the Ships wake is considered a good omen, and we get a lot of Dolphins riding in our wake on trips.  They are widely distributed in the offshore waters along the entire coast of South Africa and love hunting fish in the marine rich False Bay. There are two species of common dolphin found in False Bay, the  long-beaked and short-beaked common dolphin. The main species that we  see on our trips is the long-beaked common dolphin. 

Physical Description & Colour Common dolphins are most closely related to Porpoises and Whales but can easily be identified by their bright, colour-contrasting patterns. The sides are light grey in colour behind  the dorsal fin, and a yellowish-tan colour in front of the dorsal fin,  which creates their distinct hourglass pattern. The back is dark  grey-to-black in colour, stretching from the top of the head to the  tail, and dipping to a V on the sides below the dorsal fin. The belly is white in colour. Common Dolphins have slender but solid bodies, with a  long beak and a pointed triangular-shaped dorsal fin located in the  middle of the back.

dolphins false bay Length & Weight Common dolphins are relatively small dolphins that can reach lengths  of 1.9 and 2.6 metres, and weigh between 80 kg and 235 kg. At similar  ages, the males are slightly larger than the females.

Distribution Common dolphins are found in all tropical and warm-temperate waters.  The long-beaked common dolphin, which is the species that we often see,  is found in more coastal waters; and the short-beaked common dolphin is  mainly found in offshore waters.

Mating & Breeding Common dolphins normally reach sexual maturity between 3 to 4 years  of age, or when they reach 1.8 to 2.1 metres in length. Females normally give birth to a single calf after a 10 to 11 month gestation period.  The calves are normally around 76 to 86 cm in length at birth, and weigh around 10 kg.

Diet Common dolphins are active predators and their diet mainly consists  of squid and small schooling fish, such as anchovies, sardines and  pilchards. Small groups of common dolphins may work together to heard  schools of prey, and they are often associated with diving birds and  feeding whales.

  dolphins false bay 

Social Characteristics Common dolphins are usually found in large social groups of between  100 and 500 animals, but have occasionally been seen in larger groups of thousands of individuals. They are fast swimmers and are often seen  breaching and porpoising out of the water. They will also often approach ships to “bow-ride” for long periods of time.
Dolphins have recently been responsible for the arrival of Orca’s in False Bay, and in the Summer months recently pods of about 5 – 8 Orca’s have been following dolphins into the bay to hunt them, this is a very difficult situation to predict but causes great excitement amongst all of us here to see such a phenomenon.

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