Long Beaked Common Dolphin

Delphinus capensis

San Diego hosts resident pods of the Long Beaked Common dolphin, which has a globally smaller range than their cousins, the Short Beaked Common dolphin. These dolphins (Delphinus capensis) are often encountered in pods of over 100 individuals, although we do see them in pods of more than 1,000. This species can be encountered in near offshore waters, usually over the continental shelf. There is a seasonal variation in the frequency and size of the pods we encounter on our tours. So we recommend checking out our tour reports on Facebook and Instagram for the most up to date sightings information on Long Beaked Common dolphins.

Long Beaked Common Dolphin Info

Description –Long Beaked Common dolphins are one of the most beautiful species of dolphin we see in San Diego. Of course they are very similar to their cousins, the Short Beaked Common dolphin, but their coloration tends to be brighter with an elongated beak and darker markings. They are a bit larger than their cousins as well, reaching up to 8 feet and over 300 pounds. They show the same dark dorsal, light ventral counter shading of most dolphin species, including the hourglass design which features a yellow panel along the flanks of this species. With their long beak they are also the ‘toothiest’ dolphin with up to 67 pairs of teeth in each jaw.

Range – We are very fortunate in San Diego to be in the middle of the Eastern North Pacific Long Beaked Common dolphins habitat. This population ranges from the southern Baja through central California. Likewise there are relatively smaller populations of the Long Beaked Common dolphin along the coasts of South America, West Africa, South Africa, India, Indonesia and China. They seem to have a small range through which they seasonally transit, not making any large migrations.

Behavior – Long Beaked Common dolphin are always a thrilling species to encounter. They are usually in large social groups and will spent a lot of time in energetic ‘play time’. They will frequently race over to the whale watching boat to engage in bow riding.


The eastern North Pacific Long Beaked Common dolphin population has been under serious threat from the drift gill net fishing industry for many years. This has been the single largest threat to the California population. There is a bill with the government now to make illegal the use of these drift gill nets.

Conservation of this unique population is a main concern for us at Oceanic Eco Tours and we are continuing to monitor the situation.

At Oceanic Eco Tours we aim to assist in the long term health of this population by removing ocean trash, limiting the sound foot print and carbon emissions from our tours and ensuring our tours are not disruptive of their natural behaviors.