David Jardine's picture

Dead Dolphin

Observed: 20th November 2011 By: David JardineDavid Jardine’s reputation in MammalsDavid Jardine’s reputation in MammalsDavid Jardine’s reputation in Mammals

c2m in length, long dead.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


David Jardine's picture


Thanks for suggestion it may be bottlenosed. How many pairs of teeth does a Common Dolphin have?

The teeth were very small and didn't seem conical. They were only 2-3mm wide and I removed one and was c12mm in length. The ossification didn't suggest it was a very young animal, but I wonder if these might have been 'milk' teeth.

Overall the bulk of this animal didn't seem the same as those I have seen on the Moray Firth.

Might the tail shape help distinguish this specimen?

the naturalist man's picture

Dolphin species

This is a very hard one. There are four species this could be, all have very similar rostrums (snouts), teeth and are roughly around 2m. They are common, bottlenose and striped dolphins and porpoise; all three are found in the waters around Wester Ross.

The length at 2 metres is a little too large for porpoise so we can rule that out. It is spot on for striped and common dolphins but at the smaller end of the size range for bottlenose dolphins; however, our resident bottlenose tend to be smaller than ones found elsewhere so we can not rule them out.

The teeth look to be too short and blunt to be common dolphin, however, it could be an old individual with a lot of wear. All three have around 26-30 teeth in each side of the jaw, so no help there.

Look very carefully at the orbital socket where the eye would sit. At the side nearest the rostrum you will notice a distinct process (bit of bone sticking out) this rules out common dolphin but not the other two.

Again look carefully at the orbital socket the bone which runs above the socket in striped dolphins has a large bulge, this is missing in your dolphin.

Hence this is a small bottlenose dolphin, could be a juvenile or small female. Unfortunately, they loose their milk teeth before growing to full size.

Graham Banwell

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David Jardine's picture

Size of dolphins?


My understanding was that the local Bottlenose dolphins - those in the Moray Firth are the largest in the world - the females certainly seem much larger than than the corpse found at the weekend.

I'd be grateful also if you could comment on the point made by emmcnab as this would seem to be diagnostic.

I'll add another photo of the skull from a differenet angle to see if this is of assistance