Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale,
English: Peale's dolphin
German: Peale Delphin
Spanish: Delfín austral
French: Dauphin de Peale
Lagenorhynchus australis © Würtz-Artescienza
L. australis is a stocky dolphin with the barest indication
of a beak. Length reaches 210 cm in females and 218 cm in males;
the heaviest animal weighed 115 kg. Colour is dark grey or black
on the back, with two areas of lighter shading on the flanks. A
curved white-to-grey flank patch angles forward from the vent, narrowing
to a single line ending below or in front of the dorsal fin. The
posterior curves of the flank patch almost meet above the tail stock.
The larger thoracic patch is light to medium grey, outlined with
a narrow dark line on its lower surface. A black double eye-ring
extends forward onto the inconspicuous snout. Flippers of older
animals may have a series of small knobs on the leading edge. The
ventral surface behind the throat patch is white, with a few dark
streaks in the genital area. Younger animals are lighter grey than
adults. Peale's dolphins can be confused with dusky dolphins (L.
obsucurus) through much of their range (Goodall, 2002).
Peale's dolphin mainly ranges in coastal waters of southern South
America from Valdivia, Chile (38°S) and Golfo San José,
Argentina (44°S), south to Beagle Canal and the Falkland Islands
/ Islas Malvinas (Goodall et al. 1997a; Goodall, 2009). L. australis
may occur farther north on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts
of South America; it has been recorded as far north as Provincia
Buenos Aires, Argentina (33°S), and Concón, Chile (38°S;
Brownell et al. 1999; Goodall et al. 1997a). Records from southern
Brazilian waters (41-32°S) have been reported by Pinedo et al.
(2002; not shown on the map). A group of dolphins closely observed
and photographed near Palmerston Atoll (18°S, 163°W) in
the Cook Islands also appear to be of this species (Brownell et
al. 1999). The southernmost sightings were 57°S and at 59°10'S
in the Drake Passage (Goodall et al. 1997b).
Distribution of Lagenorhynchus australis: cool,
coastal waters of southern South America including
the Falkland / Malvinas Islands (Hammond et al. 2008; © IUCN;
3. Population size
No substantial information is available about the abundance of
L. australis. It is most common south of Puerto Montt, Chile,
and particularly common around the Falkland Islands and Tierra del
Fuego (especially the Straits of Magellan and Beagle Channel). It
is one of the most frequently sighted cetacean species in the Straits
of Magellan. The distribution may be continuous between Argentina
and the Falklands (Carwardine, 1995; Brownell et al. 1999; Goodall
et al. 1997a).
4. Biology and Behaviour
Habitat: Peale's dolphins are often seen near the coast
and so are easily observed. They occupy two major habitats: open,
wave-washed coasts over shallow continental shelves to the north;
and deep, protected bays and channels to the south and west. In
the channels, this is an 'entrance animal', associated with the
rocky coasts and riptides at the entrance to fjords, where the highest
water temperature recorded was 14.7°C.
Throughout the northern part of its range, they inhabit the waters
of the wide continental shelf off Argentina and the narrower shelf
off Chile. Although Peale's dolphins have been observed in waters
at least 300m deep, they appear to prefer shallower coastal waters
(Brownell et al. 1999 and refs. therein).
Peale's dolphins show a high degree of association with kelp beds
(Macrocystis pyrifera), especially in the channel regions. They
swim and feed within, inshore and offshore of the kelp forests,
using natural channels for movement (Goodall et al. 1997b; de Haro
and Iniguez, 1997). Because kelp forests appear to be a fundamental
habitat for them in coastal ecosystems, kelp protection might be
crucial for the conservation of Peale's dolphin populations (Viddi
and Lescrauwaet, 2005).
Behaviour: Peale's dolphin is known to ride bow-waves of
large vessels and may swim alongside smaller ones. It sometimes
swims slowly but can be energetic and acrobatic, frequently leaping
high into the air and falling back into the water on its side with
a splash. It has been observed playing in surf in the company of
Risso's Dolphins (Carwardine, 1995).
Reproduction: The young are born from spring to autumn,
October to April (Goodall et al. 1997a).
Schooling: Peale's dolphins have been seen in small groups
of 2-30 and may associate with Risso's and Commerson's dolphins
(Jefferson et al. 1993; Brownell et al. 1999 and refs. therein).
Over much of its range Peale's dolphin is sympatric with the dusky
dolphin, L. obscurus, although their usages of habitats are
slightly different (Goodall et al. 1997b; de Haro and Iniguez, 1997).
Food: The stomachs of three L. australis incidentally
killed in fishing gear off southern Patagonia, Argentina contained
molluscs, crustaceans and fish. The most frequently encountered
prey were the kingklip fish (Genypterus blacodes), the shrimp
Pleoticus muelleri and the squid Loligo gahi (Brownell
et al. 1999). Schiavini et al. (1997) studied the stomach contents
of nine specimens recovered from Tierra del Fuego which included
eight species of fish, three cephalopods, one bivalve mollusc, two
crustaceans, and one species of salp. Of these, the most important
prey species were bottom fish, namely hagfish (Myxine australis),
southern cod (Salibota australis) and Patagonian grenadier
(Macruronus magellanicus), as well as octopus (Enteroctopus
megabocyatizus) and squid (Loligo gahi). The feeding
ecology of L. australis appears to be associated with demersal
and bottom species taken in or near kelp beds. Dive times range
from 3-157 s, with an average of 28 s (Goodall 2002 and refs. therein).
Evidence from photoidentification studies suggests that some dolphins
spend the entire year in limited areas close to shore, in the Strait
of Magellan (Jefferson et al. 1993; Carwardine, 1995). Although
there is no published information on the movements of this species
at this time (Brownell et al. 1999), at least some of the population
appears to move offshore in winter, but more observations are needed
(Goodall et al. 1997b).
On the west coast of the Strait of Magellan, Chile, land-based surveys
indicate that higher total animal counts are registered during summer
months (December to February) compared to winter periods. Land-based
surveys showed an increase in abundance in the southern compared
to the central portion of the area during spring and a more homogeneous
distribution during the rest of the year. Although total abundance
increases in summer compared to the winter period, both seasons
show less marked preference for a specific sector. Concentration
in the southern part of the study area during spring appears to
be related to the calving season that can be observed as early as
October. Individual identification shows at least part of the population
to be residential throughout the year, while another observation
of one individual documents a range of at least 300 km (Lescrauwaet,
Direct catch: There is considerable concern about unknown
numbers of Peale's Dolphins that become accidentally entangled in
fishing nets and that were hunted with harpoons in the Strait of
Magellan and around Tierra del Fuego; the meat was used as bait
in crab traps (Carwardine, 1995; Jefferson et al. 1993). Although
direct hunting of dolphins has been prohibited in Chile since 1977,
crab traps for centolla (southern king crab), Lithodes antarctica
and centollon (false king crab), Paralomis granulosa, may
still be set with dolphin meat (Brownell et al. 1999). There are
no recent estimates on dolphin mortality in this region (Lescrauwaet,
pers. comm.) but it is thought to be lower than in the past due
to overfishing of the target species (Goodall, 2009). Dolphin takes
in the Argentinian sector were stopped after the early 1980's (Goodall,
Incidental catch: Peale's dolphins are incidentally entangled
and drowned in nets (Jefferson et al. 1993). There are reports from
Queule and Mehuin (Chile), southern Patagonia, north-eastern Tierra
del Fuego and southern Santa Cruz (Argentina) that local fishermen
may incidentally catch Peale's dolphins (Brownell at al. 1999, Reyes,
1991 and refs. therein). In the northern part of their Pacific range
Peale's dolphins seem to be rarely taken in gillnets (Goodall 2002),
but there are reports of entanglements in anti-pinniped nets associated
with salmon aquacultures around Isla Chiloé (Goodall, 2009).
Pollution: Some residues of organochlorine contaminants
were found in a single specimen of L.australis from Argentine
waters. Dieldrin (0.620 ppm), Hepta-chlor (0.050ppm), HCB (0.094
ppm), HCH (0.067 ppm) and DDT (0.405 ppm) were present in the blubber
of this specimen (Brownell et al. 1999 and refs. therein).
Range states (Hammond et al. 2008):
Argentina; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Included in Appendix II of CMS based on the fact that movements
of dolphins through the Beagle Channel and through the Strait of
Magellan are likely to involve the national boundaries of Argentina
IUCN Status: "Data Deficient" (Hammond et al. 2008). The
species is on Appendix II of CITES.
L. australis is poorly known with respect to abundance,
migratory behaviour and mortality in anthropogenic operations. Offshore
fishing represents a potential danger that should be monitored (Goodall
et al. 1997a). Although the potential impact of crab-fisheries must
have diminished considerably (there is more control and better availability
of legal bait like fish and slaughterhouse wastes), there is still
a-not analysed nor estimated-indication that small amounts of wildlife
are still being taken for these fisheries. New research in the field
is needed to update these data (Lescrauwaet, pers. comm.).
See also recommendations in Hucke-Gaete (2000) in Appendix
· Brownell RL, Crespo EA, Donahue MA (1999) Peale's dolphin
- Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale, 1848) In: Handbook of
marine mammals (Ridgway SH, Harrison SR, eds.) Vol. 6: The second
book of dolphins and porpoises, pp. 105-120.
· Carwardine M (1995) Whales, dolphins and porpoises. Dorling
Kindersley, London, UK, 257 pp.
· De Haro JC, Iniguez MA (1997) Ecology and behavior of the
Peale's dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis (Peale, 1848),
at Cabo Virgenes (52 degree 30'S, 68 degree 28'W), in Patagonia,
Argentina. Rep Int Whal Commn 47: 723-727.
· Goodall RNP (2002) Peale's Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus
australis. In: Encyclopedia of marine mammals (Perrin WF, Würsig
B, Thewissen JGM, eds.) Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 890-894.
· Goodall RNP (2009) Peale's Dolphin - Lagenorhynchus
australis. In: Encyclopedia of marine mammals (Perrin WF, Würsig
B, Thewissen JGM, eds.) Second Edition. Academic Press, Amsterdam,
· Goodall RNP, de Haro JC, Fraga F, Iniguez MA, Norris KS
(1997a) Sightings and behaviour of Peale's dolphins, Lagenorhynchus
australis, with notes on dusky dolphins, L. obscurus, off southernmost
South America. Rep Int Whal Commn 47: 757-775.
· Goodall RNP, Norris KS, Schevill WE, Fraga F, Praderi R,
Iniguez MA, J., de Haro JC (1997b) Review and update on the biology
of Peale's dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis. Rep Int Whal
Commn 47: 777-796.
· Hammond PS, Bearzi G, Bjørge A, Forney K, Karczmarski
L, Kasuya T, Perrin WF, Scott MD, Wang JY, Wells RS, Wilson B (2008)
Lagenorhynchus australis. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
· Hucke-Gaete R (ed.) (2000) Review on the conservation status
of small cetaceans in southern South America. UNEP/CMS Secretariat,
Bonn, Germany, 24 pp.
· Jefferson TA, Leatherwood S, Webber MA (1993) FAO Species
identification guide. Marine mammals of the world. UNEP/FAO, Rome,
· Lescrauwaet A-K (1997) Notes on the behaviour and ecology
of the Peale's dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis, in the
Strait of Magellan, Chile. Rep Int Whal Commn 47: 747-755.
· Pinedo MC, Barreto AS, Lammardo MP, Andrade ALV, Geracitano
L (2002) Northernmost records of the spectacled porpoise, Layard's
beaked whale, Commerson's dolphin, and Peale's dolphin in the southwestern
Atlantic Ocean. Aquat Mamm 28: 32-37.
· Reyes JC (1991) The conservation of small cetaceans: a
review. Unep/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, 115 pp.
· Schiavini ACM, Goodall RNP, Lescrauwaet A-K, Alonso MK
(1997) Food habits of the Peale's dolphin, Lagenorhynchus australis;
Review and new information. Rep Int Whal Commn 47: 827-834.
· Viddi FA, Lescrauwaet A-K (2005) Insights on habitat selection
and behavioural patterns of Peale's dolphins (Lagenorhynchus
australis) in the Strait of Magellan, Southern Chile. Aquat
© Boris Culik (2010) Odontocetes.
The toothed whales: "Lagenorhynchus australis".
UNEP/CMS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany. http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/index.htm
© Illustrations by Maurizio Würtz, Artescienza.
© Maps by IUCN.