S. attenuata is referred to as the pantropical spotted dolphin because its skin becomes spotted as the dolphin grows older. Its dorsal surface is dark gray but covered in paler spots, while its paler ventral surface is covered with dark spots. Another distinguishing feature is the spotted dolphin's bright, white snout. It also has melon, a fatty area located on its forehead. The inshore spotted dolphins tend to be larger in size than offshore dolphins. Males also typically have larger body sizes than females, yet females have longer rostra. The spotted dolphin has between 29 and 37 small, rounded teeth on either side of its upper and lower jaws. It has pectoral fins (on the sides), a dorsal fin (on the central back), and tail flukes. The blowhole, used for breathing and communication, is located on the top of the head. Because S. attenuata has a thin layer of blubber, it has small amounts of stored energy, so it eats high energy foods to make up for the low energy. (Bernard et al. 1989, Lang 1996, Misek et al. 1997, Myers 1997, Nowak 1997, Perrin et al. 1994)
Range mass: 60 to 165 kg.