When you’re a young kid in the prairies exploring your newfound love of dolphins the Common Dolphin’s name will give you a bit of pause. Their name appears very straightforward, they are clearly a commonly seen dolphin, yet they don’t look much like the “common” dolphin pictures and dollar store figures strewn around your room…what gives?
This is why we need research! We can’t base our assumptions on our perceptions of reality from our childhood bedrooms! Turns out that although little nine-year old me had never (obviously!) seen a common dolphin they are, in fact, very common. The most common as it turns out!
There is currently an estimated 6 million Common Dolphins swimming in the coastal tropical and warm-temperate oceans of the world. This makes this species one of the most abundant cetaceans in the world. And although they may not represent the most current “common” mental-image of a dolphin (I’m thinking of you, Bottlenose!) they certainly were a common site for all of the Greek and Ronan urn painters! Their sharply pronounced rostrums and striking colour patterns are all over those things.
But is their scientific name just as commonplace? The answer is yes. Both their genus Delphinus and species delphis both originate from the Ancient Greek “delphis” which, as you may remember from a previous “Naming of Things” was ultimately just the Ancient Greek word for dolphin.
So basically the common dolphin is the dolphiniest dolphin of the dolphins. Plus, it’s common!