Atlantic Spotted Dolphin – Stenella frontalis

The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, also known as Gulf Stream Spotted Dolphin or Cuvier’s Porpoise, is part of the family of Dolphins (Delphinidae) and is therefore part of the infraorder of the Whales (Cetacea). Stenella frontalis was first described in 1828 by Georges Cuvier.

The single individuals of the species sometimes differ so much that one was long unsure about the correct classification. It is assumed that there is a subspecies around the coasts of Florida.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Stenella frontaliswhales cetacea cetaceans species whale watching canary islands canaries atlantic ocean Gulf stream
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin – Stenella frontalis
Copyright: Ocean Explorer La Palma


The colour of the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin changes during his life. Newborns are initially uniformly grey. While the back remains grey, the belly becomes whitish later on. Young specimens of Stenella frontalis have some dark spots on the abdomen and white spots on their flanks, which become ever more dense and more numerous with increasing age until the entire body is covered. This can be seen in the picture above. In the foreground is the adult animal with numerous spots, in the background is the young bridle dolphin with almost uniform colouring.

They’ll be up to 2.5m long and 140kg heavy.

Habitat & Distribution

Map range Atlantic spottes dolphin Stenella frontalis
By The original uploader was Widewitt at German Wikipedia – aus englischer Wikipedia, en:Image:Cetacea range map Atlantic Spotted Dolphin.PNG, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin prefers the temperate to tropical areas of the Atlantic Ocean. It is often observed in the western Atlantic between Florida and Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico. East of the Azores it can be seen only rarely.

When diving in the Canary Islands he is almost never encountered. However, you can watch it from time to time on Whale Watching excursions.


Stenella frontalis, like all dolphins, lives predatory and feeds on fish and cephalopods.

In addition, the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin lives in small schools of 5-10 animals. Around the Azores you can see schools of up to 500 animals in summer.

They usually stay at the water surface, but are also able to dive up to 200m deep.