Stenella clymeneclymene dolphin

Geographic Range

The clymene dolphin, also known as the "short-snouted spinner 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 250m-5000m or deeper. It is not normally seen near the shore.

Physical Description

The clymene dolphin is a small dolphin that averages 1.8m 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.

  • Average mass
    85 kg
    187.22 lb


No information is currently available on the reproduction of the species. 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 2 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 75cm long.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual


Clymene dolphins travel in schools and may be segregated by sex. They often swim in close association with schools of spinner dolphins, Stenella longirostris. Although, 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 West Africa.

Clymene dolphins ride bow waves and are known to "spin," 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.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The clymene dolphin feeds mostly at night when squids and small fish come to the surface of the water.

  • Animal Foods
  • fish
  • mollusks

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The clymene dolphin, when captured in gillnets, is used for shark bait and for human consumption.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

The only possible way that clymene dolphins can have a negative effect on humans is that they eat fish and squid. It is not clear what kind of fish and squid they eat, but if they eat the same types that humans also consume then the fish and squid could become scarce.

Conservation Status

There are no records on how many clymene dolphins have been captured or killed, but clymene dolphins are occasionally taken by harpoon in small numbers in the Lesser Antilles (Caribbean) small cetacean fishery. They are captured in gillnets 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.

Contaminant levels have not been recorded.

Other Comments

The clymene dolphin was first described by Gray in 1846 from a single skull of unknown locality. He gave it the name "Delphinus metis." He then later changed the name to Delphinus clymene. The species was later placed into other genera of dolphin species. It remained doubted by cetologists until it was recently confirmed as a valid species, Stenella clymene, in 1981 by Perrin.

Little is known about the life history of the clymene dolphin.


Melody Benton (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Atlantic Ocean

the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


specialized for swimming

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats fish


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


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Doak, W. 1982. Dolphin Dolphin. New York, NY: Sheridan House.

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Folkens, P. 1994. "Mammals of Texas: Clymene Dolphin" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 1999 at

Hansen, L., L. Higgins, T. Jefferson, K. Mullin. October 1994. Sightings of the Clymene Dolphin (STENELLA CLYMENE) in the Gulf Of Mexico. Marine Mammal Science, 10(4): 464-470.

Heyning, J. 1994. Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises: Masters of the Ocean Realm. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Jefferson, T., S. Leatherwood, M. Webber. 1993. Marine Mammals of the World. Rome: FAO and UNEP.

Mazzaralla, K. 1998. "Clymene Dolphin (STENELLA CLYMENE)" (On-line). Accessed October 8, 1999 at

Poss, S. "Species At Risk in the Gulf Of Mexico" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 1999 at

Ridgway, S., S. Harrison. 1994. Handbook of Marine Mammals, Volume 5: The First Book of Dolphins. San Diego, CA: Academic Press Inc..

Robineau, D., M. Vely, J. Maigret. 1994. STENELLA CLYMENE (Cetacea, Delphinidae) From The Coast Of West Africa. Journal of Mammalogy, 75(3): 766-767.

Simoes-Lopes, P., P. Praderi, G. Paula, S. De. April 1994. The Clymene Dolphin, STENELLA CLYMENE (Gray, 1846), In The Southwestern South Atlantic Ocean. Marine Mammal Science, 10(2): 213-217.