Lagenorynchus australis lives mostly in the mildly cold and temperate waters off of South America and the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. One sighting has been reported near the Cook Islands also.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native )
L. australis has many distinguishing physical characteristics. Some of these include a torpedo shaped body, a dark gray back, a white belly, a light gray area on flanks that extends from behind to the anus and a skinny white band that begins behind the dorsal fin and gets wider as it extends backwards. This latter feature is termed the “tail stock”.
L. australis has double black rings around both eyes and that extend forward to the nose. A final distinguishing feature that separates this species from other similar looking species is a circular patch of varying gray colors that is right on the thoracic area of the back.
The young of L. australis tend to look the same as the adults, but are much lighter in color. They become darker as they mature.
The teeth of L. australis seem to be variable. The maximum number on each upper jaw is thirty-seven and thirty-six on each lower jaw. Many teeth are hidden in the gums of the mouth.
The pectoral fin length is approximately 30 cm, and the dorsal fin can be up to 50 cm in height. The tail fluke is generally 30-60 cm wide, and the beak is up to 5 cm in length.
These animals may weigh up to 115 kg.
Average mass: 115 kg.
Range length: 150 to 310 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Catalog Number: USNM A3887
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Collector(s): Collector Unknown
Locality: Locality Unknown, Locality Unknown, Locality Unknown
L. australis is usually found near the coast. These dolphins love to swim in and around the channels within kelp beds. They have also been sighted around sandbars and shallow bays. Most sightings of L. australis occur while there are strong tidal currents and during medium tides.
Peale's dolphins tend to inhabit two types of coastline. In the south they are usually found near channels and fjords. In the northern and eastern coast ranges, where the continental shelf underwater is very wide, they tend to be found in the open coast. In the open coast they have been found to swim as deep as 300 meters. There is little kelp there, but more southward and towards the Falkland Islands there are many kelp beds and this is where you will mostly find L. australis.
Range depth: 300 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; saltwater or marine
Aquatic Biomes: coastal
Habitat and Ecology
Very little is known about the biology of this species. Peale’s dolphins associate with other cetacean species, especially Commerson’s dolphins. Calves have been reported from spring through autumn. The few stomachs that have been examined contained mostly demersal fish, octopus, and squid species that occur in shallow waters and in kelp beds. Some shrimps have also been found in stomachs.
Depth range (m): 0 - 0
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Peale's dolphins may feed in groups or alone. It has been hypothesized that this species may tend to feed alone when food is scarce and in groups when food is of abundance. When in groups, L. australis usually exhibits what is called "flower" or "starburst" feeding. They encircle their prey until they form a large group and then they feast. This is mostly done within the kelp beds. When they are sighted eating alone it is usually close to shore. When diving for prey it has been reported that they stay under water from between 10.36 seconds to 1.46 minutes.
Not very many L. australis have been dissected for examining the stomach contents, but known prey species are very extensive all the same.
Foods eaten include: Pleoticus muelleri (Argentine shrimp), squid (Loligo gahi and Illex argentinus), Kingklip fish (Genypterus blacodes), Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi), southern cod (Salilota australis), hagfish (Myxine australis), Pantagonian grenadier (Marcuronus magellanicus), red octopus (Enteroctopus megalocyathus), other species of herring, makarel, capelin, anchovies, crustaceans and whelks (gastropods).
Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans
Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Molluscivore )
There is so little known about Peales dolphins that their effect on the pelagic ecosystem is unknown. However, because they prey upon a number of types of animals, there is a potential impact of these dolphins upon prey populations.
Species Used as Host:
- Anisakis simplex
There are no known predators of L. australis.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Sounds emitted under water by L. australis include low frequency clicking noises and a "rapid tonal sound", but no whistling. There is little research on vocalizations, as they seem to be very timid communicators around boats taking the data.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Very little has been recorded about the developmental cycle in L. australis. The only studies recorded represent measurements of the ovaries of a few female L. australis. These measurements were representative of the different sexual maturities and the data showed the older females as having more ovarian scars. Even less information has been gathered about males and their sperm activity. There was not enough conclusive information to make any statements. No information has been collected about the young in L. australis and there have been no specimens collected or found with a fetus inside. Because of this we are left to assume that this species is similar in the developmental patterns of better-known dolphin species.
(Goodall et al, 1997 and Claver et al, 1992)
Scientists are able to determine the age of Peale's dolphins by looking at their teeth but no records or studies explain how this is accomplished. The oldest recorded specimen of L. australis was thirteen years old.
Status: wild: 13 (high) years.
Little is known bout the mating system of these animals.
In general it has been noted that species within the genus Lagenorynchus have gestation periods of ten to twelve months. Calving season for L. australis usually occurs between the southern spring and autumn but a calf can be born as early as October. Females tend to have only one calf per birth (maybe two) and they also move more inshore to do this. Some records show that when two of these dolphins were spotted together in the past, they were only considered a mother and calf if the smaller of the two animals was one third or less the size of the adult accompanying it. On visual sightings alone, this is probably still the most common way to tell a calf from an adult.
Although data are not available for this species, in another member of the genus, L. acutus, young are between 90 and 125 cm at birth. They nurse for about 18 months, and become independent of their mothers around the age of 2 years. It is not known whne these animals mature sexually.
Breeding season: It is not known for certain when mating occurs, but births occur during the Southern Spring to Autumn.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 10 to 12 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); viviparous
Young are precocial and swim along side of their mothers from birth. The mother provides her calf with milk for approximately 18 months, although the calf may remain dependent upon her for an additional 6 months. It is not known what role males play, if any, in the parental care of this species.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence; extended period of juvenile learning
Lagenorynchus australis has not been studied intensively to determine population trends. There are a few human sources of mortality that may be of a concern in the future. These include shore-set gill nets (accidental catch), inshore fishing (incidental catch), and salmon farms near Chile (a few have been caught in the anti-pinniped nets despite the loud sounds made underwater to deter them). Deep sea fishermen have been known to occasionally catch a few Peales dophins in their mid-water nets. A more serious situation is occurring near crab fisheries where the use of nets has been outlawed. Fisheries have been known to use harpooned L. australis as bait. (Nowark, 1999 and Goodall et al, 1997)
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: data deficient
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Data Deficient
- 1994Insufficiently Known(Groombridge 1994)
Peale's dolphins are incidentally entangled and drowned in nets (Jefferson et al. 1993). There are reports from Queule and Mehuin (Chile), southern Patagonia, northeastern Tierra del Fuego and southern Santa Cruz (Argentina) that local fishermen may incidentally catch Peale's dolphins (Reyes 1991; Brownell et al. 1999). In the northern part of their Pacific range, however, Peale's dolphins seem to be rarely taken (Goodall 2002). Their close dependence on kelp forests may render them vulnerable to habitat loss (Viddi and Lescrauwaet 2005).
Recommended actions for conservation include cooperative research on biology and abundance, more comprehensive statistics on the use of Peale’s dolphin as bait and continued development of alternative sources of bait (the availability of legal bait has already diminished considerably the potential impact of crab-fisheries). Critical neritic habitat should be identified and protected for this species.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
It is difficult to speculate on how these acquatic mammals might negatively impact humans. There are no reports of negative interactions, but it is possible that through their predatory behavior, populations of Peale's dolphins could negatively impact commercial or subsistence fisheries. However, this is just speculation, and there are no reports of this being the case.
Humans have occasionally harpoon Peales dolphins for use as bait.
IUCN Red List Category
Peale's dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis) is a small dolphin found in the waters around Tierra del Fuego at the foot of South America. It is also commonly known as the black-chinned dolphin or even Peale's black-chinned dolphin. However, since Rice's work  Peale's dolphin has been adopted as the standard common name.
Though it is traditionally placed in the genus Lagenorhynchus, recent molecular analyses indicate Peale's dolphin is actually more closely related to the dolphins of the genus Cephalorhynchus. If true, this would mean this species must either be transferred to Cephalorhynchus or be given a new genus of its own. An alternate genus proposed for this species (as well as the Pacific white-sided dolphin and dusky dolphin is Sagmatias. Some behavioral and morphological data support moving Peal's dolphin to Cephalorhynchus. According to Schevill & Watkins 1971, Peale's dolphin and the Cephalorhynchus species are the only dolphins that do not whistle. Peale's dolphin also shares with several Cephalorhynchus species the possession of a distinct white "armpit" marking behind the pectoral fin.
Peale's dolphin is of typical size in its family — about 1 m in length at birth and 2.1 m (6.9 ft) when fully mature. Its adult weight is about 115 kg. It has a dark-grey face and chin. The back is largely black with a single off-white stripe running curving and thickened as it runs down the back on each side. The belly is white. Conspicuously, also a white patch occurs under just behind each flippers. These are known as the "armpits". The flanks also have a large white-grey patch above the flipper. The dorsal fin is large for this size cetacean and distinctively falcated. The flippers themselves are small and pointed. The tail fin, too, has pointed tips, as well as a notch at its middle.
The species looks similar to the dusky dolphin when viewed at a distance, and may be confused with it.
Population and distribution
Peale's dolphin is endemic to the coastal waters around southern South America. On the Pacific side, they have been seen as far north as Valdivia, Chile at 38°S. On the Atlantic side, sightings typically diminish at about 44°S — near Golfo San Jorge, Argentina. In the south, they have been seen at almost 60°S — well into the Drake Passage.
They are often found in areas of fast-moving waters, such as entrances to channels and narrows, as well as close to shore in safe areas such as bays.
The total population is unknown, but is thought to be locally common.
Peale's dolphins congregate in small groups — usually about five in number, and sometimes up to 20. On rare occasions in summer and autumn, much larger groups have been recorded (100 individuals). A typical pattern is for the group to move in a line parallel to the shore. They usually swim slowly, but are prone to bursts of activity.
Peale's dolphins' propensity for moving over only small areas, and staying close to shore, has rendered them vulnerable to interference by man. During the 1970s and '80s, Chilean fisherman killed and used thousands of Peale's dolphins for crab bait each year. This practice has decreased, but not been made illegal.
In Argentina, Peale's dolphins have been reported becoming trapped in gill nets, but the extent of this is not known. Conservation groups such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society demand further research be made into this species.
The Peale's dolphin or black-chinned dolphin is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.
- Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. (2008). Lagenorhynchus australis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 24 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient.
- "Marine Mammals of the World. Systematics and Distribution", by Dale W. Rice (1998). Published by the Society of Marine Mammalogy as Special Publication No. 4
- Shirihai, H. and Jarrett, B. (2006). Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton Field Guides. pp. 205–207. ISBN 9780691127569.
- "Appendix II" of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). As amended by the Conference of the Parties in 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008. Effective: 5 March 2009.
- Convention on Migratory Species page on the Peale's dolphin / Black-chinned dolphin
- National Audubon Society: Guide to Marine Mammals of the World ISBN 0-375-41141-0
- Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals ISBN 0-12-551340-2
- LeDuc, R.G.; Perrin, W.F.; Dizon, A.E. (July 1999). "Phylogenetic relationships among the delphinid cetaceans based on full cytochrome b sequences". Marine Mammal Science 15: 619–648. doi:10.1111/j.1748-7692.1999.tb00833.x. ISSN 0824-0469.
- May-Collado, Laura; Agnarsson, Ingi (2006). "Cytochrome b and Bayesian inference of whale phylogeny". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38: 344–54. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.09.019. ISSN 1055-7903. OCLC 441745572. PMID 16325433. Retrieved January 2013.
- Schevill, W.E.; Watkins, W.A. (15 January 1971). "Pulsed sounds of the porpoise Lagenorhynchus australis". Breviora 366: 1–10. ISSN 0006-9698. OCLC 80876226.