Whale & Dolphin watching in Tenerife – occasional species

In the previous article, we’ve explained about the resident species of whales and dolphins you can easily see taking a boat trip in Tenerife and this article is about the kinds of dolphins and whales you can see occasionally being on a boat trip in the waters around the Tenerife island. That means nobody will give you a warranty you will see them, but, if you a lucky and took the boat trip right time and right season, you have a chance to observe also the species described below.


These species are rather occasional visitors by in the island’s waters, so there are no rules how to see them – they are visiting island time to time without any kind regular basis. Sometimes they stay shorter and sometimes longer, it depends on a lot of different factors.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Atlantic Spotted Dolphins by Tenerife
Atlantic Spotted Dolphins by Tenerife

The Atlantic spotted dolphin is only found in the ocean. They are known to live in a variety of locations including the oceans around the United States, Africa, Canary Islands, Europe, the Bahamas, and the Gulf of Mexico. They have significantly increased in numbers in the Bahamas. There are now hundreds of them when only a couple of decades there were less than 100 there. It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 Atlantic spotted dolphins out there.

Some of them that live along the Gulf of Mexico do migrate annually. Others tend to move long distances each day but not out of a need to follow a migration pattern.

They are excellent when it comes to communication. They use a variety of loud clicks and whistles to talk with each other. They form groups of about 50 and they are also known to move around with other species of dolphins without any conflicts among them. There is a hierarchy among these dolphins that depends upon many factors including their size, age, and gender.

They are extremely protective of their young and will help each other to care for them. They also tend to do their best to protect the pregnant females from enemies including sharks.

Their main food sources include octopus and various types of small fish. Most of the time they will fish at night. They also tend to hunt in groups as they have a tactic that allows them to get their prey into a big circle. Then they are able to come at these schools of fish from all angles.

Rought-Toothed Dolphin

Rough Toothed Dolphin by Tenerife
Rough Toothed Dolphin by Tenerife

This dolphin gets the name rough-toothed from the unusual construction of its teeth. The teeth have fine vertical wrinkles, impossible to see on live animals but which can be used to identify the animal after death. The rough-toothed dolphin is still, however, relatively easy to identify at sea although there may be initial confusion with bottlenose, spotted or spinner dolphins, with whom they are known to associate in the wild. Closer examination of the odd rostrum and body scars will ensure the correct identification.

The rough-toothed dolphin is a relatively large species, with adults ranging from 2.09 to 2.83 meters (6.9 to 9.3 ft) in length, and weighing between 90 and 155 kilograms (198 and 342 lb); males are larger than females. Its most visible characteristic feature is its conical head and slender nose; other dolphins either have a shorter snout or a more visibly bulging melon on the forehead. As the common name for the species implies, the teeth are also distinctive, having a roughened surface formed by numerous narrow irregular ridges. They have been reported to have between nineteen and twenty-eight teeth in each quarter of the jaw.

  Rough-toothed dolphins are not extremely active animals, though they can be fast, powerful swimmers. They often swim with several individuals together shoulder-to-shoulder. They are also seen swimming with the tip of the beak and chin out of the water, facilitating species identification. Rough-toothed dolphins do not generally porpoise but may perform low breaches, and will occasionally bow and wake-ride, though they do this less often than some other species. They tend to travel in small groups of between 10-20 animals, though they can occasionally be seen in larger groups.

  The rough-toothed dolphin is a tropical to warm water species present in all three major oceans and usually encountered in deeper offshore waters. Despite its widespread distribution, it has not been well studied. In the Atlantic, it is best known from West Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. Threats to the rough-toothed dolphin include small numbers of intentional takes as well as accidental death resulting from bycatch. With an estimated global population of approx. 150,000, the IUCN Red List lists the species as of ‘Least Concern’.

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