These marine mammals are one of the most well-known species of dolphin in existence.
They are very social creatures and will often approach humans out of curiosity.
Their high level of intelligence, ability to learn and perform complex tasks combined with an outgoing nature have made them very popular among people.
Common bottlenose dolphins are a light or dark grey color.
The average length of these dolphins varies between 6 1/2 ft. and 13 1/2 ft. with males typically being larger than their female counter parts.
Larger dolphins can weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds while smaller dolphins may only weigh around 400 pounds.
The common bottlenose dolphins can reach speeds in excess of 18 miles per hour and have sleek streamlined bodies designed for fast swimming and quick movement.
They also have a beak and large dorsal fin located half way down its back.
The common bottlenose dolphin often hunts for its prey in groups, however they are also able to search for food alone.
Working together these dolphins will first group schools of fish into small balls and then take turns darting in to catch them.
While the common bottlenose dolphins is known for having teeth these dolphins swallow their food whole instead of chewing them.
In addition to using their eyesight to locate potential prey they also use echolocation to find food, coordinate attacks and travel through dark areas.
In order for these marine mammals to use their echolocation they create a series of clicking sounds that they use to determine the distance of various objects and are able to measure the size, density, direction, elevation and movement of objects in the water and can tell what type of object it is by the information that they receive from the echo that returns back to them.
These dolphins can be found swimming both in coastal and off shore waters throughout the world.
They prefer warm temperate waters over colder climates.
Offshore dolphins can make annual migration trips of over several thousand miles (about 3,000).
Female common bottlenose dolphins are very social and can often be seen traveling in groups or pods of 10 or more while their male counterparts tend to travel alone or in small groups of 2 – 3 dolphins.
On certain occasions these groups may increase to over 100 and during rare situations or migration periods groups can exceed 1,000 dolphins.
They communicate using a series of clicks and whistles.
Each dolphin has a unique pitch and frequency which allows these dolphins to distinguish which dolphin is talking and what they are saying.
Unfortunately scientists and researchers are unable to effectively understand what these sounds mean, so it is difficult to understand what these dolphins are communicating to one another.
Another form of communication involves using body language where dolphins will leap out of the water, slap their tails and flippers against the surface and/or perform various gestures to other dolphins in order to communicate that they have found food, show their dominance or warn others of nearby threats amongst other things.
The average gestation period for bottlenose dolphins is about 11 – 12 months.
Female dolphins can reach sexual maturity as early as 5 years of age while males typically reach maturity at around 10 – 14 years.
Mothers can be seen nursing their young for up to 1 1/2 years.
Since these dolphins are very family oriented young dolphins will often travel with their mothers for up to 6 years.
The estimated lifespan for these dolphins is 40 years or longer.
Captivity & Threats
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most well-known dolphins in history.
They are often used in movies and are very popular at marine shows.
Due to the dolphins intelligence, friendliness and ability to be trained they have attracted the interests of spectators, dolphin lovers and the military.
Some dolphins have even been trained to locate enemy mines, investigate underwater environments (using cameras) and assist local fishermen in capturing fish by chasing them towards the fishing nets.
Unfortunately some countries currently hunt these dolphins for food and annual killings can number in the thousands.
10 Insightful common bottlenose dolphin facts
- The common bottlenose dolphin is one of 80 or so known species of cetacea in existence today.
- The scientific name for the common bottlenose dolphin is, “Tursiops truncatus”.
- Their are three species of known bottlenose dolphins; the common bottlenose dolphin, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the Burrunan dolphin.
- These marine mammals are known as conscious breathers because they are always aware of their breathing and need for oxygen. They also have complete control of their breathing whether they are diving for food or taking a nap.
- Aside from humans common bottlenose dolphins are known to face threats from natural predators such as sharks and killer whales.
- Common bottlenose dolphins are known for their social nature and desire to help others. Observations of these marine mammals have shown them leading humans back to land, defending people against attacks from sharks and helping other marine mammals find their way back home when lost at sea.
- Although these marine mammals are not considered endangered they are a protected species and hunting them is considered illegal.
- There have been a handful of known cases in which a false killer whale and bottlenose dolphin have mated resulting in a hybrid known as a wolphin.
- Bottlenose dolphins are believed to have excellent eyesight and hearing, but have a poor sense of smell due to the fact that its blowhole is its nose and the dolphin must close it during dives to avoid taking water into its lungs. The dolphins nose also lacks olfactory glands which land animals use to smell different scents.
- These marine mammals have been observed holding their breath for up to 20 minutes during deep dives.