Cetacean Society International

Working for whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

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Peale's Dolphin

(Lagenorhynchus australis)

Peale's dolphins live from about 38°S off southern Argentina, around Cape Horn and the Falkland Islands, to about 33°S off southern Chile. The coastal ranges of the Peale's dolphin seem to be more restricted than other species with whom they sometimes associate, such as dusky, Chilean, Commerson's and hourglass dolphins. But Peale's dolphins also have been seen far offshore, so there is much to learn about them. (Photo courtesy of Loreto Balkenhol, Chile)
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Much of the time Peale's dolphins forage inshore waters slowly and methodically, often in kelp beds. This makes sense if they are hunting prey that's slow but hiding. They also prefer swift flowing tidal changes, as well as shallows, estuaries and some offshore banks, usually in waters cooler than 15 degrees C. Like other "Lags" they have been seen foraging cooperatively, sometimes searching in line abreast, sometimes encircling masses of prey. As new things are learned about Peale's dolphins, we expect they will show more techniques for hunting and catching specific prey, as many other "Lags" do. (Photo courtesy of M. Iñíguez / Fundacion Cethus, Argentina)
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Peale's dolphins can easily be confused with dusky dolphins by body shape and general coloring. Although Peale's dolphins are reported as less boisterous than dusky dolphins, those observations may come from watching them hunt slow prey inshore. They can be fast and maneuverable swimmers too, and probably have as much fun as the other "Lags" do. (Photo courtesy of Francisco Viddi Carrasco, Chile)
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Peale's dolphins are so friendly or curious that they often approach boats closely. Besides bow riding and surfing waves, they may rush around and under small boats, seeming to use them in some game. As with other playful "Lags", they also could be urging the boat to go faster, or competing to see who will take the best position near the boat! As research progresses we expect scientists to learn how to distinguish many more individuals by sight, photographs, genetics, and even behavior. Then a great deal will be learned about their social habits and specific needs. (Photo courtesy of M. Iñíguez / Fundacion Cethus, Argentina)
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The color pattern of individual Peale's dolphins may be somewhat variable. Near Chile their coloring includes a grayish back and black head, but this may not be the same for every population. While some other similar "Lag" species come together on occasion in aggregations of several hundred dolphins, Peale's dolphins so far have rarely been found in groups larger than two to seven. Whether these small groups are age, sex or seasonally related is unknown. (Photo courtesy of M. Iñíguez / Fundacion Cethus, Argentina)
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