White-beaked dolphins – photos and facts

These photos of white-beaked dolphins were taken in Lyme Bay, off the Dorset coast in England during a Naturetrek / MARINElife (a Dorset-based marine conservation charity) guided boat trip in July 2012 which also saw a minke whale, an Ocean Sunfish and birds such as Balearic Shearwaters, Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels . Unfortunately, I wasn't on the trip but I'm not bitter… much.

Click on photos to enlarge

Photos © Martin Gillingham

White-beaked dolphin facts

Latin name: Lagenorhynchus albirostris
Other names: White-nosed dolphin, Squidhound, White-beaked porpoise
Male: 3.10 m
Female: 2.83 m
Calf: 1.10 – 1.20 m
Weight: max Male: 350 kg


  • Large, dark grey and falcate (curved) dorsal fin
  • Short, stubby beak  often entirely white but can be dark but always with a white tip
  • Tail stock is quite thick
  • Flippers are pointed, broad and almost 20% of the total body length
  • Overall muted grey and white colouration
  • Could be confused with the Atlantic white-sided dolphin but that species has a distinctive yellow patch on the tailstock

Group size: Usually in groups of 5-50
Diet: Fish ranging from sandeels and herring to larger bottom-dwelling fish such as cod, whiting and haddock plus molluscs, squid, octopus and some crustaceans
Habitat and distribution:
Cold, temperate and sub-arctic waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and Lyme Bay is thought to be the most southerly location in the world for this cold-water dolphin species, which is threatened by climate change

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Find out more

  • MARINElife is building a catalogue of fin photos, which help identify individual animals. You can read more about their work and what animals have been seen at the Charm III blog at marinelife-charm3.blogspot.co.uk. If you're interested in volunteering for MARINElife or becoming a supporter, please take a look at their website.
  • Whalefest is the event for people who are passionate about whales and dolphins and is taking place in Brighton, West Sussex, England on 27 & 28 October 2012. MARINElife will be at the event and are holding a special event for current supporters and vounteers plus people who are interested in volunteering or supporting the charity in the future.


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