One of the most recently recognised species of dolphin, the Clymene dolphin remains among the least known of the Delphinidae. Clymene dolphins are marine mammals withing the family of Oceanic Dolphins, part of the order of cetaceans. In appearance it is very similar to the spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), which is largely why it was not recognised until 1981 as a distinct species. It is a small but stocky dolphin, with a beak of medium length and a dorsal fin that is triangular to nearly triangular. Males are larger and eavier than females, but both sexes have a white belly, light grey flanks and a dark grey cape, and a dark grey line runs down the top of the beak. The one distinctive feature that separates the Clymene dolphin in appearance from the spinner dolphin is the black marking, somewhat like a moustache, on top of the beak.
Clymene dolphins appear to feed in midwater during the night, on fishes and squids, and many bear bite marks and scars from cookie-cutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis).
These attractive and acrobatic dolphins have been observed riding the bow waves of boats and spinning out of the water like spinner dolphins, although the spins are not as high or as complex as those of performed by the spinner dolphin.
The Clymene dolphin is a small dolphin that averages 1.8 meters in length. It has a short beak, a white belly, light gray sides, and a dark cape that dips in two points above the eye and below the dorsal fin. The facial markings are very distinct, including black eye rings, dark lips and snout tip, and a dark line on top of the snouts sometimes making a "moustache" near the apex of the melon. The cape sometimes has blotchy patches on the sides, and the dorsal fin is gray but bordered with dark margins. On average members of this species have 38 to 49 teeth on each side of the upper and lower jaws, which are slender and pointed.
Little information is currently available on the reproduction of the species, but some information is available for a close relative, the spinner dolphin, Stenella longiristris. Adult females of this species give birth to a single calf at two year intervals. Parturition most often occurs in early summer, but can occur in any season. The period of gestation is 11 months and calves are born about 75 centimeters long.
Clymene dolphins travel in schools and may be segregated by sex. They often swim in close association with schools of spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris. While swimming in close association with spinner dolphins, the Clymene dolphins remain clustered together. Schools of Clymene dolphins have also been seen in the company of common dolphins, Delphinus delphis, off the coast of West Africa.
Clymene dolphins ride bow waves and are known to twist whilst leaping, but the spinning leaps are not as high or complex as those of the spinner dolphin. However, in the Gulf of Mexico Clymene dolphins have been observed to spin as much as the spinner dolphins do.
Clymene dolphins have been seen singly, amongst groups of spinner dolphins, and in large groups of around 100 animals. (5) These schools may sometimes be divided by age and sex, and sometimes swim in the company of a group of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Clymene dolphins appear to feed in midwater during the night, on fishes and squids, and many bear bite marks and scars from cookie-cutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis).
These attractive and acrobatic dolphins have been observed riding the bow waves of boats and spinning out of the water, hence their name, although the spins are not as high or as complex as those of performed by the spinner dolphin.
The Clymene dolphin can be found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean (eastern North America to West Africa), the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. In the United States it has been recorded as far north as New Jersey and along the coast lines of Texas and Louisiana. It has also been recorded as far south as southern Brazil.
The Clymene dolphin is a deep water species that has only been observed at sea in waters with depths of 250 to 5000 m or deeper. It is not normally seen near the shore.
The Clymene dolphin feeds mostly at night, when squid and small fish come to the surface of the water.
While the Clymene dolphin is currently not known to be facing major threats, the lack of research on this species means that the problems could simply be undocumented. These dolphins are harpooned in the Lesser Antilles and are sometimes caught in fishing gear in other areas. By-catch is likely to occur in many parts of its range, but is thought to be most significant in the eastern tropical Atlantic, off West Africa, where considerable numbers may be taken during overfishing by tuna purse seines.
There are scant records on numbers of Clymene dolphins captured or killed, but the species is occasionally taken by harpoon in the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean) small cetacean fishery. They are captured in gill-nets in Venezuelan waters, where they are used for longline shark bait and human consumption. They may also betaken in tuna purse seines in the eastern tropical Atlantic.
When captured in gill-nets, the Clymene dolphin is often used for shark bait and for human consumption. This species' tissue contaminant levels of heavy metals and other water pollutants have not been systematically recorded.
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