Clymene Dolphin (Stenella clymene)


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Clymene dolphins, sometimes known as the “short-snouted spinner dolphin,” are relatively small delphinids. In 1981, Clymene dolphins were separated from the “long-snouted spinner dolphin” (Stenella longirostris) and classified as a distinct species. Genetic analysis suggests that this species of dolphin is more closely related to striped dolphin, and appears physically similar to both striped and spinner dolphins (Shirihai and Jarrett 2006).

They are about 6-6.5 feet (1.8-2 m) in length and weigh about 165-200 pounds (75-90 kg). The species has a robust, streamlined body with a moderately short beak and a tall, “falcate” “dorsal” fin located midway down its back. The rounded melon is separated from the beak by a distinct crease. These dolphins are recognized by a tricolored pattern on their sides that includes a dark gray cape, moderately gray flanks, and a white or pale gray underside. They also have distinct black lips that appear similar to a “moustache” and a line that extends across the top ridge of their beak.

Clymene dolphins are usually found in small social groups of fewer than 60-80 individuals, but have been occasionally seen in larger groups of up to several hundred animals (Jefferson et al. 2008). Within these social groups, they may be organized by sex. This species sometimes associates with other cetacean species such as common dolphins and spinner dolphins. Their swimming behavior is often described as acrobatic due to their frequent aerial activity, such as jumping and spinning. They have also been known to approach vessels to bowride.

During dives they feed on small mesopelagic fish (e.g, “myctophids”) and cephalopods (e.g., squid). Feeding sometimes occurs at night when their prey vertically migrates towards the surface. They have 36-52 pairs of small conical teeth in each jaw that are useful for grasping prey.

Little is known about the reproduction of this species of dolphin. Clymene dolphins become sexually mature and begin breeding at about 6 feet (1.8 m) in length. Females give birth to a single calf that is about 2.5-4 feet (0.8-1.2 m) long and weighs around 22 pounds (10 kg). The estimated lifespan of this species is unknown.

This species is classified as DATE INCOMPLETE according to the IUCN's Red List.
This species is classified as DATE INCOMPLETE according to the IUCN’s Red List.


MMPA – Clymene dolphins, like all marine mammals, are protected under the MMPA.
CITES Appendix II – throughout its range

Species Description

165-200 pounds (75-90 kg)
6-6.5 feet (1.8-2 m)
streamlined gray body with a short beak and a tall dorsal fin, they have a tri-colored pattern on their sides that fades from dark gray to moderate gray to pale gray or white
small deep sea fish (“myctophids”) and squid
usually found in small social groups of 60-80 individuals; they are acrobatic swimmers

RELATIVE SPECIES: Striped Dolphin, Spotted Dolphins, Spinner dolphin

OTHER NAMES: Short snouted spinner dolphin

NEIGHBORING SPECIES: Common dolphins, spinner dolphins


THREATS: Occasionally harpooned and caught in tuna nets.

DIET: Small fish and squid in deep waters.

MANNER OF FEEDING: They often prey on species that migrate vertically at night.

BEHAVIOR: Travel in groups of around 50 and occasionally in the hundreds. Often seen with common and spinner dolphins. Likes to follow vessels and bowride. Enjoys leaping out of the water. Spins while leaping out of the air, but does not do a complete spin like the spinner dolphin.

REPRODUCTION: Not much is known. Become sexually mature when they are about 6 Ft long.

LIFE SPAN: Unknown


Clymene dolphins prefer deep, tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters in the Atlantic Ocean. This species generally occurs in oceanic waters 820-16,400 feet in depth (250-5,000 m).


Clymene dolphins have a widespread distribution throughout the warm waters of the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. Their distribution ranges from the northwestern Atlantic (New Jersey), Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Brazil to West Africa (Mauritania to Angola).

Population Trends

The most recent stock assessment reports with population estimates are available on our website.


  • incidental take (as bycatch) in fisheries such as gillnets in Venezuela and possibly tuna purse seine nets off the coast of West Africa
  • sometimes targeted and hunted by artisan whalers using harpoons in the Caribbean Sea

Conservation Efforts

This species is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended.

Regulatory Overview

This species is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Stenella
Species: clymene

  • This species is also called the “short- snouted spinner dolphin”; it sometimes spins when it jumps out of the water.
  • When Clymene dolphins spin above the water’s surface, they do not complete a full rotation along their long axis (unlike spinner dolphins), and usually land on their sides or backs.
  • It is the smallest dolphin in the genus Stenella.
  • Originally considered to be a short-beaked version of the spinner dolphin.
  • Became its own species in the 1980s.
  • They have markings on their rostrums that resembles a mustache.