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Lagenodelphis hosei (Frasers Dolphin)

Family: Delphinidae (Oceanic Dolphins)

Order: Cetacea
Class: Mammalia

Fig. 1. Frasers Dolphin, Lagenodelphis hosei.
[ Louise Murray,
downloaded 26 October, 2011].

TRAITS. Frasers Dolphin (also known as the Sarawak dolphin and Bornean dolphin (Perrin,
Leatherwood and Collet 1994)) is a dolphin which was first described in 1956 by F.C. Fraser
based on a skeleton he collected from a beach in Sarawak, Borneo in 1895 (Louella and Dolar
2002). They are about 6-9 feet long, weigh 350-450 pounds and they have a short, well defined
beak (Fig. 1). These dolphins have smaller appendages than other dolphin species. They have a
short dorsal fin which is found halfway down its back and has a slightly semi-circular and
triangular shape (Jefferson, Webber and Pitman 2008). There is also a well developed postanal
hump in males which is small or absent in females (Louella and Dolar 2002). Colour: Their
lower body is cream, their back is brownish grey and their stomachs are pink or white (Louella
and Dolar 2002). There is a characteristic dark stripe that runs from the eye to the anus which
varies with age and sex. In mature males it is broad and thick, in females it is variable and is
absent or faint in juveniles (Culik 2010). They also have a facial stripe or bridle which merges

with the eye to anus stripe and forms a bandit mask (Louella and Dolar 2002). This stripe is
also thicker in males than females and is absent in juveniles.

ECOLOGY. These dolphins are described as being oceanic and are found in tropical high-sea
regions between 30N and 30S latitude (Fig. 2) at depths between 1500-2500m (Louella and
Dolar 2002). It is most frequently sighted in the Sulu Sea, Philippines and in the Gulf of Mexico
(Louella and Dolar 2002).

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION. These are very social dolphins usually found in large schools
consisting of 100-1000 individuals (Fig. 3). They are often in the company of Bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Rissos dolphin (Grampus griseus), melon headed whales
(Peponocephala electra) and a few other species (Louella and Dolar 2002). In their schools there
is usually a mixed age group and a 1:1 ratio of males to females (Louella and Dolar 2002). They
are generally shy towards humans depending on their location. In some areas they will bow ride
vessels and in others they will not.

FEEDING BEHAVIOUR. These dolphins are usually found in deep waters because of their
preference for prey found in deep water such as mesopelagic (live at a depth of 200-1000m) fish,
crustaceans and squid (cephalopods). They feed selectively based on prey size (Moreno et al
2003). They are sometimes seen fishing above water in a strategic manner. They swim rapidly
towards a school of fish in a line; they then dive underwater for about 15 seconds and suddenly
surface with vigorous splashing causing the fish to jump out of the water ahead of them. They
then surround the school to enclose them and then some of the dolphins jump into the
concentration of fish and others come up from below them to eat them (Watkins et al 1994).
After feeding in this way the dolphins then return to regular activity level. They do not have any
surface dwelling prey (Perrin, Leatherwood and Collet 1994). When oceanic crustacean species
are sick or injured they tend to forage in coastal waters before stranding (Moreno et al 2003).
This behaviour is also demonstrated by Frasers dolphins.

SWIMMING ACTIVITY. These are very active dolphins that are usually seen swimming at
great speeds. They can reach up to 28 kilometres an hour when fleeing from ships (Encylopedia
of Life 2010). They swim with little aerial activity and produce considerable amounts of sounds
underwater (Watkins et al 1994). Their swimming behaviour is described as low-angled,
aggressive and splashy and they create a foamy wake (NOAA Fisheries 2011). On rare
occasions they show porpoising behaviour whereby they leap out of the water in order to breathe
(Encyclopedia of Life 2010).

COMMUNICATION. The communicative behaviour of Frasers dolphins is not well known
however they do produce clicks and whistles underwater (Watkins et al 1994). The clicks are
short and occur in repetitions similar to those used in echolocation (Watkins and Wartok 1985).
They are produced in long sequences with a variety of repetition rates and usually end in an
increased rate of repetitions coupled with side to side head movements (Watkins et al 1994).
Whistles are frequency modulated narrowband tones with two or more harmonics and
stimulate responses between the dolphins (Watkins et al 1994). There is increased sound
production with increasing activity and also during their fishing behaviour (Watkins et al 1994).

SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR. Mating is believed to be promiscuous. Males reach sexual maturity at
7-10 years and females at 5-8 years (Louella and Dolar 2002). The gestation period is 1.5 years
and every 2 years the females deliver a calf which is approximately 100-110cm long (Louella
and Dolar 2002).

Culik, B. (2010). "Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser, 1956." Convention on Migratory Species: Whales and Dolphins. (accessed October 25, 2011).
Encyclopedia of Life. (2010). "Fraser's Dolphin." Encylopedia of Earth . March 17, 2010.'s_dolphin?topic=49540 (accessed October 26, 2011).
Jefferson, T., M. Webber, and R. Pitman. (2008). Frasers Dolphin In Marine Mammals of the World. A
Comprehensive Guide to their Identification. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Louella, M., and L. Dolar. (2002). "Fraser's Dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei." In Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals,
by W. Perrin, B. Wursig and J. Thewissen, 485-486. California: Academic Press.
Moreno, I., D. Danilewicz, M. Bourges-Martins, P. Ott, G. Caon, and L. Oliveira. (2003). "Fraser's Dolphin
(Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser, 1956) in Southern Brazil." Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals. 2:
NOAA Fisheries. (2011). "Fraser's Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)." Office of Protected Resources. (accessed October 26, 2011).
Perrin, W., S. Leatherwood, and A. Collet. (1994). "Fraser's Dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser, 1956." In
Handbook of Marine Mammals (Volume 5: The 1st Book of Dolphins), by S. Ridgeway and R. Harrison,
226-237. London: Academic Press.
Watkins, W., and D. Wartzok. (1985). "Sensory biophysics of marine mammals." Marine Mammal Science. 1 :
Watkins, W., M. Daher, K. Fristrup, and G. Di Sciara. (1994). "Fishing and Acoustic Behaviour of Fraser's Dolphin
(Lagenodelphis hosei) near Dominica, Southeast Caribbean." Caribbean Journal of Science. 30 : 76-82.

Word count: 792 excluding references and titles.

Author: Khadija Huggins
ID#: 809002317

Fig. 2. Global Distribution of Frasers Dolphin.
[, downloaded 25 October, 2011]

Fig. 3. A large school of Frasers Dolphins.
[, downloaded 26 October, 2011]