Everyone is getting really excited on our whale watching boat: we have dolphins bowriding! Maybe the little Atlantic spotted dolphins, or bottlenose dolphins? But a closer look tells me: they don’t have spots and are darker than the bottlenose dolphins. Maybe they are … yes they are! Rough-toothed dolphins! They are also relatively easy to tell apart from the other species because they don’t have a crease separating their beaks from their melon. Lips, belly and chin are often white or pinkish, the dorsal fin falcate to triangular. The species gets its unusual name from the fine vertical wrinkles on its teeth.
Here, in the waters off La Gomera, is one of the few places this species can be observed on a regular basis. But for me, it is only the second sighting. And today, we are especially lucky because the group stays close to the boat for quite a long time. It is great to observe the synchronized swimming style typical of rough-toothed dolphins.
We are getting even more excited as we discover a tiny dorsal fin between two dolphins: a baby rough-toothed dolphin! It still has the classic neo-natal folds on its flanks , this means the little one is only a couple of days old.
The baby is swimming very close to its mum.
Rough-toothed dolphins are mainly observed in small groups of between 10 and 20 individuals and prefer deeper waters. It is a little surprising that the species is resident in the waters off the Canary Islands as they usually prefer warmer waters.
More interesting facts and figures about rough-toothed dolphins can be found in our species guide.