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Keywords:

  • Fraser's dolphin;
  • Lagenodelphis hosei;
  • life history;
  • school composition;
  • growth;
  • maturity;
  • sexual dimorphism;
  • reproduction

ABSTRACT

Life history of Fraser's dolphin, a little known delphinid species, was examined based on 108 specimens from a school captured by the driving fishing method in Japan. The sex ratio was approximately 1:1, and mature dolphins of both sexes formed the bulk of the school. The oldest animals were two males and a female of 17.5 yr. Age and body length at sexual maturity were estimated at 7–10 yr and 220–230 cm in males and 5–8 yr and 210–220 cm in females. Mature males were larger in body length than mature females and showed apparent secondary sexual features: deepening of the tail stock and widening and darkening of the lateral dark stripe. The annual ovulation rate was 0.49. The estimated neonatal length (110 cm) predicts a gestation period of about 12.5 mo and calving peaks in spring and probably also in fall. The calving interval was estimated to be about 2 yr. These life history parameters are similar to those of the striped and pantropical spotted dolphins, except for longevity. The reproductive rate of this species may be lower than that of other pelagic delphinids, if the observed shorter longevity is real.