Frasers Dolphin

Common Name: Fraser's Dolphin

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Family: Delphinidae

Genus: Lagenodelphis

Species: Lagenodelphis hosei

Taxonomy/Description

Fraser's dolphins belong to the Mammalian Order Cetacea, in the suborder Odontoceti.  All toothed whales belong to the suborder Odontoceti, which is Latin for "toothed whales".  This dolphin belongs to the oceanic dolphin family, Delphinidae.  Other members of this family include the killer whale, long-beaked common dolphin, and pilot whale.  Fraser's dolphin's scientific name is Lagenodelphis hosei.  The generic name, Lagenodelphis, is derived from the Greek lagenos, meaning "flagon". The specific name, hosei, is named for Dr. Charles Hose (1863-1929).  Hose was a British naturalist stationed in Sarawak, Borneo 1884 to 1907, discovering the skull of this dolphin on a beach in 1895.  Interestingly, this species was not described until 1956, or even observed alive until 1971.  The common name is named for Dr. Francis Fraser, the curator of marine mammals at the British Museum of Natural History.

Fraser's dolphins reach lengths of about 6-8ft and weigh as much as 450lbs.  Males are larger than females.  They are gray in color, with a whitish underbelly.  Three stripes, two white stripes sandwiching a black stripe, run laterally down each side.  The pectoral fins and dorsal fin are small in relationship to body size when compared to those of other dolphins.

Habitat/Diet

Fraser's dolphin is native to tropical ocean waters worldwide.  The deep, open ocean is preferred.  Deep-sea fish and shrimp are the primary components of this species' diet.

Behavior/Reproduction

Groups of 60-80 individuals have been observed.  No breeding season is apparent.  Gestation lasts 10-12 months.  Newborn claves are about three feet in length.  Calves become sexually mature at seven years.  Lifespan is estimated at 16 years.

Conservation

Fraser's dolphins occasionally drown in tuna nets.  Fortunately, this species seems to be quite numerous despite its existence outside of science until the 20th century.

 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.