Sadly a 99 cm female neonate long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis) was found on the beach at Chintsa by Jonathan and Mabel Cox. They kindly transported the specimen to the museum on Sunday 13th January 2019 (on the day it was found).
These dolphins occur worldwide in warm-temperate and tropical waters. The diagnostic criss-cross marking on the side helps to identify the species. They can reach lengths of 2.54 m in males and 2.22 m in females. These dolphins form large schools and migrate from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal in the winter following the annual sardine run.
Births may take place throughout the year with a notably strong peak in summer. Suckling can continue until the calf is a least 1.75 m in length. In 1988/89 the population of common dolphins inshore on the south-east coast of South Africa was estimated at 15 000 – 20 000 animals. Unfortunately these are the species that most likely get entangled in shark nets and die (1023 died between 1980 and 2005).
The specimen illustrated above was secured by museum scientist Kevin Cole and placed in the museum freezer for a possible necropsy later in the year. The stranding was also reported to Dr Greg Hofmeyr at Bayworld.
Mr and Mrs Cox are thanked for securing the specimen and transporting it to the museum. Div de Villiers (Head: Green Scorpions, Eastern Cape) is also thanked for reporting the stranding to the museum.
Reference: Whales and Dolphins of the southern African subregion by Peter B. Best