White-beaked Dolphin

© (c)Martin Kitching/www.northernexperienceimages.co.uk

White-beaked Dolphin – Lagenorhynchus albirostris

Size: 2 - 3 m 
Key feature: Small beak – not always white!


White-beaked dolphins are relatively large stocky dolphins with a distinct colouring. They have a small obvious beak but it’s not always white. They are grey to black in colour with lighter white patches behind the dorsal fin and along the flanks. They have a large tall dorsal fin.


White-beaked dolphins are fast powerful swimmers. They are very active and playful, often breaching and tail slapping. They often approach boats, following them for distances riding in the bow waves. They usually travel in groups of up to 50 individuals.


White-beaked dolphins are distributed throughout the North Atlantic. They prefer cool temperate and sub arctic shallow waters and are often seen from the Shetland Islands, around the Scottish coast, and in the North Sea. They can be seen on ORCA survey trips from Harwich to Esbjerg and Newcastle to Amsterdam.


The major threats towards White-beaked dolphins include entanglement in fishing gear, being caught as bycatch and the overfishing of their prey. They have also been hunted in the past for meat in Norway, Faroe Islands and Greenland.