Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) are seen less frequently than other local members of Family Delphinidae because they do not venture into shallow water as other dolphins do, instead preferring to stay in the deeper offshore waters around Hawaii. When seen, it is only on our Kauai dinner cruise, Niihau and Napali Super Tours. They are fast swimmers, and when motivated (such as when chasing fish) they will travel in excess of 15 knots (about 17 MPH). They are the highest leaping dolphins you’re likely to see; we’ve observed them jumping over 20 feet out of the water!
The Striped Dolphin has a similar size and shape to several other dolphins, however its coloration is very conspicuous and makes them relatively easy to distinguish at sea. The underside is white or pink. There are one or two dark blue bands that run from the bottom of the eye to the flipper. These bands widen to the width of the flipper which are the same size. There are two further blue stripes running from behind the ear – one is short and ends just above the flipper. The other is longer and thickens along the flanks until it curves down under the belly just prior to the tail stock. Above these stripes the dolphin’s flanks are colored light blue. The back, dorsal fin, melon and beak are dark blue. There is also a dark blue patch around the eyes. The lips are white.
At birth individuals weigh about 10 kg and are up to one meter long. By adulthood they have grown to 2.4 meters (females) or 2.6 meters (males) and weigh 150 kg (female) or 160 kg (male). Longevity is about 55-60 years.
In common with other dolphins in its genus, the Striped Dolphin moves in large groups – usually in excess of 100 individuals in size. They may also mix with other dolphin species. The Striped Dolphin is as capable as any dolphin at performing acrobatics – frequently breaching and jumping far above the surface of the water.
The Striped Dolphin feeds on small fish and squid.
Attempts have been made to keep the Striped Dolphin in captivity. However these have all failed, with animals dying within two weeks due to failure to feed. Fortunately, the wild population is stable with a population estimated at two million or more.
See Wikipedia, “Striped Dolphin”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Striped_dolphin