Coastal Spotted dolphins in Huatulco.

Spotted Dolphins

Stenella attenuata graffmani
Distribution map of coastal spotted dolphins.

Coastal Spotted Dolphins are the most commonly seen species on our Huatulco, Mexico dolphin and whale watching tours. This local population is actually a subspecies of the more common pantropical spotted dolphin known as the coastal spotted or Central American spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata graffmani).
They are only found along the southern coast of Mexico, all the way to Central America. Very little is known about this subspecies of the Pantropical Spotted dolphin, giving us an opportunity to learn more about this unique subspecies and help with its conservation.

Coastal spotted dolphins in Huatulco.

Coastal Spotted Dolphins

Coastal Spotted dolphins are larger than their cousins, the Pantropical Spotted dolphins. They are a relatively small species of dolphin with a slender body. They reach maturity around 7 years of age and can live for approximately 50 years. They mate throughout the year, gestation lasts 11 months, and parturition occurs every 2-4 years.
Coastal species can grow to over 7 feet in length and weigh over 250 pounds. They are born a light gray color with the typical counter-shading of the dark back to a lighter gray on the sides and stomach. As adults they begin to darken to almost black with many white spots. They have a defined crease between the rostrum and the melon. Their lips and the tip of the beak are white.

Coastal Spotted dolphin conservation project in Huatulco.
Conservation of Coastal Spotted dolphins in Huatulco.

Coastal Spotted Dolphin Conservation

Little is known about the conservation status of coastal spotted dolphins. No research has been conducted on the range of this subspecies and the relative population cannot be determined. Pantropical spotted dolphins living in the open ocean have been victims of the commercial fishing industry for many years and their populations have suffered extreme mortality.

Oceanico’s dedicated research and conservation program, the ‘STENELLA Project’, is supported by our tours. During the tours we collect information about sightings to help the project focus on this unique subspecies of dolphin. In addition to group size, location, activity, and age range within the groups, we are also collecting information on fishing interactions and tourism activity around the groups. Our tours support the research and conservation of Huatulco’s coastal spotted dolphins.