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Reproduction in short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from the western North Atlantic
Westgate, A.J.; Read, A.J. (2007). Reproduction in short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from the western North Atlantic. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 150(5): 1011-1024.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Westgate, A.J.
  • Read, A.J.

    A single population of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis Linnaeus) occurs in the western North Atlantic from Florida to Newfoundland. Dolphins killed in a swordfish driftnet fishery between 1989 and 1998 provided samples for the present study. These were combined with additional observations from carcasses collected from stranding programs. Samples were examined from 74 female and 161 male short-beaked common dolphins. A highly significant male bias in the sex ratio of both the bycatch and stranding samples suggests that sex-based habitat partitioning or school segregation occurs in this population. Age was estimated from decalcified thin sections of teeth and testis and ovarian samples were examined both macro- and microscopically. Analyses showed that reproduction was both seasonal and synchronized. Females reached sexual maturation at approximately age eight; males matured at 9.5 years. Conception occurred during July and August (mean day 24 July). Gestation was estimated to last just under a year, so most females gave birth during July and August (mean day 15 July). Annual pregnancy rate was estimated to be between 25 and 33%. Males undergo a fivefold seasonal increase in testes mass and a twofold increase in seminiferous tubule diameter. Peak sperm production potential was observed in July. At the end of the breeding season testis size and activity decreased after August. Male dolphins in this population are hypothesized to engage in some form of sperm competition.

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