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Dolphin Species: Commerson's Dolphin
Cephalorhynchus Commersonii

While they may look like porpoises with their stocky body shape and their small, indistinct rostrum, the Commerson's dolphin is unmistakably part of the dolphin family with its bold, outgoing behavior. Because of its striking black and white patterns, this dolphin is also called by other names such as the Skunk dolphin and the Piebald dolphin. Typical coloration of an adult would be a black colored head, with a large black area sweeping back from the dorsal fin to the flukes. It has a white patch on its throat that travels beneath its pectoral fins, then sweeps upwards, covering the whole midsection of the dolphin in white, with a small black patch on the underside that may come up slightly to the sides of the dolphin. At birth, these dolphins don't have the flashy black and white pattern, but are grey, black, and brown. As it grows older, it will become black and grey, with the grey patches developing into the white coloration that the adults possess.

Unlike most dolphins, the dorsal fin of the Commerson's dolphin is wide and rounded. It may curve back slightly, though some individuals have a less rounded find that is almost triangular in shape. Their pectoral fins are rounded as well, and are a solid black on both the top and the undersides.

Commerson's dolphins can be found in shallow waters along the southernmost tip of South America and in the Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean. They can often be found in naturally protected waters or harbors, sometimes entering the mouths of rivers. These dolphins are most commonly found in the Straits of Magellan, the Falkland Islands, and around Tierra del Fuego, often around kelp beds. They have anywhere from 108-138 teeth, and feed on just about anything, such as fish, squid or octopus, crustaceans such as shrimp, and some other invertebrates as well, most likely foraging near the sea floor for their meals.

Being dolphins, they are quite active and can swim very quickly, usually around the surface of the water. Commerson's are active breachers, and may breach repeatedly in a short period of time. They may even surf, riding breakers close to shore or heavy swells out at sea. Bowriding is a common behavior, and they may also swim behind vessels, playing in the wake. Underwater, a Commerson's dolphin may engage in swimming upsidedown or spinning while swimming.


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