|Rough-toothed Dolphins Quickly Swimming; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
|Rough-toothed Dolphin Breaching; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 04.2008|
The Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) is commonly mistaken for the Bottlenose, Spinner, and Spotted species, but upon closer inspection observers note unique physical characteristics specific to this animal. When I originally had sighted the pod of dolphins my automatic assumption was that these were Bottlenose dolphins.
Throughout my sightings of the Rough-toothed dolphins I noticed a number of unique characteristics which defined this marine mammal. Rough-toothed dolphins appear to wear a mask, hood, and cape which range from dark grey to black in color. The markings begin at the tip of the nose and extend back past the dorsal fin. The lips, throat and underbelly are in stark contrast with hues of white to pink. The belly surface is further marked with irregular grey or black splotches. The nose or beak is long, round and gently curves to form a small head. The body is stocky in appearance having dorsal and pectoral fins located further back on the body compared to other dolphins. Additionally, the fins are much larger in size. This playful sea mammal was aptly named for the wrinkled ridges on the crowns of the 22 to 27 large teeth within its mouth.
Rough-toothed dolphins prefer deep tropical waters around the world. They are very social creatures not only amongst their own kind, but with other dolphin species, some whales and fish. In fact, the Rough-toothed dolphins have been known to produce hybrid offspring with other dolphin species while in captivity. The Rough-toothed dolphin is known to travel in groups as small as 8 and in communities numbering in the hundreds. Researchers estimate the total worldwide population to be over 150,000 and this dolphin species is not currently considered endangered.
|Rough-toothed Dolphins Slowly Swimming; Gulf of Mexico: Geco Snapper 05.2008|
What do they eat? The Rough-toothed dolphin feeds on fish and squid as well as mollusks and cephalopods.