This smooth-backed dolphin presents a slim, graceful silhouette as it travels through the waters of the temperate North Pacific. Moving in great herds of several hundred to several thousand and leaping at low angles, northern right whale dolphins look like black crescents skimming the water. Occasionally, thee are flashes of white from their brilliant belly patches. Their herds look completely unlike any other dolphin herd.

Northern right whale dolphins live far offshore and feed primarily on squid and deep-sea fish. They often form larger herds with several other dolphin species, especially Pacific white-sided dolphins. Generally, they avoid humans and rarely ride on the bow waves of ships. Researchers have watched them bunch together, then jet away from boats. At such times, making seven-metre shallow leaps to avoid drag, they have reached speeds of 40 kmh and sustained 25 kmh for half-hour periods.

Some northern right whale dolphins, along with other small whales and dolphins, have been hunted for food by the Japanese. Many more are killed accidentally in drift nets, particularly those set for squid. Despite these ongoing assaults on its numbers, however, the species appears to be fairly common.

Lissodelphis borealis
Size: 2.1 to 3.1 m, 70 kg
Calves at birth: 80 to 100 cm
Teeth: 36 to 49 small, pointed teeh on each side of upper and lower jaws
Food: Squid and many deep-sea fish species
Habitat: Deep offshore waters
Range: Temperate North Pacific
Status: Population unknown, but common within its range

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