The most distinctive feature of the pantropical spotted dolphin is, as its name suggests, the spots that speckle the body of adults. Newborn calves are unspotted, but by adulthood, a varying amount of light spots cover the upper surface, and dark spots cover the dolphin's underside (2). Underneath this spotting, the slender, stream-lined body is grey, with a darker grey cape extending back from the head and sweeping low underneath the dorsal fin (2) (4). The dorsal fin is narrow and sickle-shaped (4). The long, thin beak of the pantropical spotted dolphin is separated from the melon by a distinct crease (2) (4). In most adults, the tip of the beak is white (2). Male pantropical spotted dolphins are slightly larger than females (2). A subspecies of the pantropical spotted dolphin is recognised, Stenella attenuate graffmani, which inhabits more coastal areas and can be distinguished in appearance by its larger, stockier body, thicker beak and more extensive spotting (4).
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