Seasonal distribution of white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) in UK waters with new information on diet and habitat use

Sarah J. Canning, M. Begona Santos, Robert J. Reid, Peter G. H. Evans, Richard C. Sabin, Nick Bailey, Graham J. Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


The white-beaked dolphin, Lagenorhynchus albirostris, is commonly found throughout the North Sea and sheaf waters of the North Atlantic. Little is known about the behaviour and ecology of this species, especially in British coastal waters. in this paper we present details of the seasonal and geographical distribution of white-beaked dolphins around the UK, along with new information on their diet and habitat use. Analysis of historical stranding records show a segregation of the sexes, with a significant difference between when males and females strand in UK waters. There has been a steady decline in reported strandings since the 1970s and seasonal differences in the distribution of strandings suggest that sea temperature may limit white-beaked dolphin distribution around the British coast. Stomach contents' analysis, from dolphins stranded mainly on the Scottish east coast, identified haddock and whiting as the predominant fish species being taken. Boat surveys were performed along the north-east Scottish coast to examine relationships between topography, environmental conditions, dolphin presence and group size. Dolphin presence was related to seabed slope and aspect while variation in temperature explained almost 45% of variation in observed group size, with smaller groups associated with higher sea temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1166
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Issue number06
Early online date29 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008


  • white-beaked dolphin
  • distribution
  • habitat use
  • diet
  • strandings
  • temperature
  • environmental relationships
  • porpoises phocoena-phocoena
  • bottle-nosed dolphins
  • harbor porpoises
  • North-Sea
  • minke whales
  • abundance
  • cetaceans
  • Scotland


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