Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
ADULT FEMALE FACTS
ADULT MALE FACTS
The bottlenose dolphin is identifiable by a short and stubby beak (hence bottlenose). The dolphin’s color is light gray to slate gray with lighter sides and a pinkish belly. Fun fact: Because 5 of the 7 vertebrae in their neck are not fused together, (much like other oceanic dolphins) the bottlenose has more flexibility in the neck.
You can see dolphins in groups of up to 20 nearshore. Look for a high and curved dorsal fins.
Bottlenose dolphins live close to shore and are easy to spot in the wild; however sightings are rare further North of northern California.
Because they favor more temperate waters, you can see them more often in the summer months in the Pacific Northwest.
They are found both offshore and in coastal waters around the world including harbors, bays, gulfs and estuaries. The density of population tends to be higher nearshore. They prefer tropical and more temperate climates. In the United States, they can be found along the West Coast off California, Oregon and Washington in addition to the Hawaiian islands.They are also seen in coastal and offshore waters on the East Coast (from New York to Florida), along the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean.
Bottlenose Dolphin, courtsey of NOAA
Adult bottlenose dolphins can reach up to twelve feet in length and weigh as much as 1,430 pounds. They are robust dolphins; however, many of the dolphins that are seen in captivity in parks are much smaller. They have 18-26 pairs of sharp teach on each side of their jaw.
Some travel alone, while others travel in groups. They move consistently in a direction and even when they are resting, it may look like they are moving. They utilize gentle body contact such as rubbing to interact socially with one another. The group size is generally less than 20 nearshore. Offshore groups of bottlenose dolphins have been seen in numbers of several hundred.
Bottlenose dolphins are extremely intelligent—using sound to hunt and communicate. They hunt a variety of prey including fish, squid and crustaceans. Instead of chewing their prey with their teeth, they swallow the fish whole (head first).
Bottlenose dolphins in the United States are not endangered or threatened. While NOAA Fisheries estimates population size for each stock of bottlenose dolphins, in the 61 stocks identified, population trends are unknown in the U.S.
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most studied (and most popular cetaceans, but because they live close to shore, they are at risk of human-related injuries and death. Threats include: disease, biotoxins, pollution, human feeding, oil spills and other types of human-related issues.