Common bottlenose dolphin

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Common bottlenose dolphin[1]
Tursiops truncatus 01-cropped.jpg
Common bottlenose dolphin breaching in the bow wave of a boat
Bottlenose dolphin size.svg
Size compared to an average human
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Tursiops
Species: T. truncatus
Binomial name
Tursiops truncatus
(Montagu, 1821)
  • T. t. truncatus
  • T. t. gillii
  • T. t. ponticus[3]
Cypron-Range Tursiops truncatus.svg
Common bottlenose dolphin range (in blue)

Tursiops truncatus, commonly known as the common bottlenose dolphin or the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (and in older literature simply as the bottlenose dolphin, a term now applied to the genus), is the most well-known species from the family Delphinidae.

Common bottlenose dolphins are the most familiar dolphins due to the wide exposure they receive in captivity in marine parks and dolphinaria, and in movies and television programs.[4] T. truncatus is the largest species of the beaked dolphins.[5] They inhabit temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world, and are absent only from polar waters.[4][5][6][2][7] All bottlenose dolphins were previously known as T. truncatus, but recently the genus has been split into three species, T. truncatus, T. aduncus (Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin)[2][7] and T. australis (Burrunan dolphin). Although T. truncatus has been traditionally called the bottlenose dolphin,[3][8] many authors have used the name common bottlenose dolphin for this species since two other species of bottlenose dolphins were described.[1][9][10] The dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide. Considerable genetic variation has been described among members of this species, even between neighboring populations, and so many experts believe multiple species may be included within T. truncatus.[3][9]


The common bottlenose dolphin is grey in color and may be between 2 and 4 m (6.6 and 13.1 ft) long, and weighs between 150 and 650 kg (330 and 1,430 lb).[8] Males are generally larger and heavier than females. In most parts of the world, the adult's length is between 2.5 and 3.5 m (8.2 and 11.5 ft) with weight ranging between 200 and 500 kg (440 and 1,100 lb).[5][9] Newborn calves are between 0.8 and 1.4 m (2 ft 7 in and 4 ft 7 in) long and weigh between 15 and 30 kg (33 and 66 lb).[9] They can live as long as 40–50 years.[11] Sexual maturity varies by population, and ranges from 5–14 years of age.[11] Dolphins have a short and well-defined snout that looks like an old-fashioned gin bottle, which is the source for their common name.[12] Like all whales and dolphins, though, the snout is not a functional nose; the nose has instead evolved into the blowhole on the top of their heads. Their necks are more flexible than other dolphins' due to five of their seven vertebrae not being fused together as is seen in other dolphin species.[13]


K-Dog, trained by the US Navy to find mines and boobytraps underwater, leaping out of the water

Common bottlenose dolphins live in groups called pods that typically number about 15 individuals, but group size varies from pairs of dolphins to over 100 or even occasionally over 1000 animals for short periods of time.[9] Their diets consist mainly of eels, squid, shrimp and wide variety of fishes.[1][6] They do not chew their food, instead swallowing it whole. Dolphin groups often work as a team to harvest schools of fish, though they also hunt individually. Dolphins search for prey primarily using echolocation, which is a form of sonar. They emit clicking sounds and listen for the return echoes to determine the location and shape of nearby items, including potential prey.[14] Dolphins also use sound for communication, including squeaks emitted from the blowhole, whistles emitted from nasal sacs below the blowhole, and sounds emitted through body language, such as leaping from the water and slapping their tails on the water. Their heads contain an oily substance that both acts as an acoustic lens and protects the brain case.

Life expectancy[edit]


Tursiops truncatus can be found in the temperate, subtropical and tropical oceans worldwide.[15] Some bottlenose populations live closer to the shore (inshore populations) and others live further out to sea (offshore populations). Generally, offshore populations are larger, darker, and have proportionally shorter fins and beaks. Offshore populations can migrate up to 4,200 km (2,600 mi) in a season, but inshore populations tend to move less. However, some inshore populations make long migrations in response to El Niño events.[9]


Tursiops truncatus has a bigger brain than humans.[16] Numerous investigations of bottlenose dolphin intelligence include tests of mimicry, use of artificial language, object categorization, and self-recognition.[17][18][19][20][21][22] This intelligence has driven considerable interaction with humans. Common bottlenose dolphins are popular in aquarium shows and television programs such as Flipper.[23] They have also been trained for military uses such as locating sea mines or detecting and marking enemy divers, as for example in the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program.[24][25] In some areas, they cooperate with local fishermen by driving fish toward the fishermen and eating the fish that escape the fishermen's nets.[26]

Other human interactions[edit]

This is "Biskit", a three months fetus, removed from its deceased mother during post mortem in 1993 and now on display at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, South West (Western Australia)
Four dolphins jumping in show.

Some interactions with humans are harmful to the dolphins. Dolphin hunting industry exists in multiple countries including Japan, where common bottlenose dolphins are hunted for food annually in the town of Taiji,[27] and the Faroe Islands. Also, dolphins are sometimes killed inadvertently as a bycatch of tuna fishing.[28][29]

Tião was a well-known solitary female bottlenose dolphin that was first spotted in the town of São Sebastião in Brazil around 1994 and frequently allowed humans to interact with her. The dolphin became infamous for killing a swimmer and injuring many others, which later earned her the nickname killer dolphin.


The North Sea, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea populations of the common bottlenose dolphin are listed on Appendix II[30] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) of the Bonn Convention), since they have an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international cooperation organized by tailored agreements.[31]

The species is covered by the Agreement on Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region,[32] and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Wells, R.; Scott, M. (2002). "Bottlenose Dolphins". In Perrin, W.; Wursig, B.; Thewissen, J. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 122–127. ISBN 0-12-551340-2. 
  2. ^ a b c Hammond, P.S.; Bearzi, G.; Bjørge, A.; Forney, K.A.; Karkzmarski, L.; Kasuya, T.; Perrin, W.F.; Scott, M.D.; Wang, J.Y.; Wells, R.S.; Wilson, B. (2012). "Tursiops truncatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22563A17347397. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012.RLTS.T22563A17347397.en. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). "Tursiops truncatus". Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  4. ^ a b Leatherwood, S., & Reeves, R. (1990). The Bottlenose Dolphin. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., ISBN 0-12-440280-1
  5. ^ a b c Jenkins, J. (2009) Tursiops truncatus. Animal Diversity Web.
  6. ^ a b Anonymous (2002). "Bottlenose Dolphin". Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Klinowska, M. (1991). Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland, Switzerland, U.K.: IUCN, ISBN 2880329361
  8. ^ a b American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet – Bottlenose Dolphin Archived 2008-07-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Shirihai, H.; Jarrett, B. (2006). Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. 155–158. ISBN 0-691-12757-3. 
  10. ^ Reeves, R.; Stewart, B.; Clapham, P.; Powell, J. (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. New York: A.A. Knopf. pp. 362–365. ISBN 0-375-41141-0. 
  11. ^ a b "Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  12. ^ "Tursiops truncatus, Bottlenose Dolphin". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  13. ^ Wells, R.S. (2006). American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet: Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
  14. ^ Au, Whitlow (1993). The Sonar of Dolphins. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-97835-2. 
  15. ^ Scott, M., & Chivers, S. (1990). "Distribution and Herd Structure of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean", pp. 387–402 in S. Leatherwood, & R. Reeves, The Bottlenose Dolphin, San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., ISBN 0-12-440280-1
  16. ^ Marino, Lori; Connor, Richard C.; Fordyce, R. Ewan; Herman, Louis M.; Hof, Patrick R.; Lefebvre, Louis; Lusseau, David; McCowan, Brenda; et al. (2007). "Cetaceans Have Complex Brains for Complex Cognition". PLoS Biology. 5 (5): e139. PMC 1868071Freely accessible. PMID 17503965. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050139. 
  17. ^ Reiss, Diana; McCowan, Brenda (September 1993). "Spontaneous Vocal Mimicry and Production by Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Evidence for Vocal Learning". J Comp Psychol. 107 (3): 301–12. PMID 8375147. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.107.3.301. 
  18. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Behavioral Mimicry". Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  19. ^ Herman, L. (2002). "Language Learning". In Perrin, W.; Wursig, B.; Thewissen, J. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 685–689. ISBN 0-12-551340-2. 
  20. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Understanding Language". Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. 
  21. ^ "Intelligence and Humans". Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  22. ^ Marten, K.; Psarakos, S. (2006). "Evidence of Self-awareness in the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)". In Parker, S. T.; Mitchell, R.; Boccia, M. Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 361–379. ISBN 0521025915. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  23. ^ "American Cetacean Society — Bottlenose Dolphin". Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  24. ^ "U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Web Site". U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. 
  25. ^ "Dolphins Deployed as Undersea Agents in Iraq". National Geographic. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  26. ^ "Bottlenose Dolphin". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  27. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Save Japan Dolphins Campaign". International Marine Mammal Project. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  28. ^ Kenyon, P. (2004-11-08). "Dining with the dolphin hunters". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  29. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Threats to the Bottlenose Dolphin and Other Marine Mammals". Archived from the original on 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  30. ^ "Appendix II" of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). As amended by the Conference of the Parties to the Bonn Convention in 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014. Effective: 8 February 2015.
  31. ^ "Convention on Migratory Species page on the common bottlenose dolphin". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "Pacific Cetaceans MoU". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 
  33. ^ "Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU". Retrieved 16 September 2014. 

External links[edit]