Nature Champions: Common Dolphin


Common dolphins are inquisitive, sociable and distinctive, with a yellow or tan hour-glass panel on the sides of their bodies. They are energetic and boisterous, often approaching vessels to bow-ride on the wake at the front. Resident and wide-spread on the west coast of Scotland, they are less frequently found in the North Sea. Often they are seen in large groups of 10-50 animals, and occasionally in hundreds. They feed on small schooling fish and squid. Previously at the northern extent of their range, their numbers are increasing in Scottish waters, possibly as increasing temperatures cause their prey to move north.

Action Needed

  1. Progress wider management decisions to fully consider European Protected Species, including Common dolphin.
  2. Press for cetacean at-sea monitoring to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive Article 11.
  3. Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented


In the waters to the north and west of Scotland, fisheries are a likely concern, both in terms of dolphins caught as bycatch and of prey depletion. PCB contamination and noise pollution, including from seismic surveys and military activities, may be issues.

MSP Nature Champion

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