BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN
Tursiops truncatus

Habitat: Typically found near the coast in temperate and tropical waters.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 10 feet long and between 500 and 800 pounds.

Natural history: The name "Bottlenose" is not quite right. Their "nose" is really a rostrum that is shaped like a bottle. They breath air through an opening on the top of their heads, called a blowhole. Bottlenose dolphins use their tail fin, or fluke, to swim and their pectoral fins to steer. They have excellent hearing, with twice as many fibers in the hearing nerve than we do. Bottlenose dolphins communicate with each other through a series of clicks, squeaks and whistles. They have excellent eyesight, but often hunt in areas that are murky or dim. So, Bottlenose dolphins use echolocation. The dolphin sends out clicking sound, and listens for their echo. Bottlenose dolphins can "see" with their ears. These clicking sounds can tell the size, shape, distance and even the direction an object is traveling. Bottlenose dolphins can swim at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour and hold their breath for eight to 10 minutes. They can jump up to 16 feet out of the water, in a behavior called a breach. Bottlenose dolphins swim and hunt together in groups, called pods. They are social animals who work together to catch their prey, usually fishes. They will encircle a school of fish, herd them into a tight ball, then take turns rushing through the school to feed. Bottlenose dolphins also feed on squid and shrimp. Bottlenose dolphins are very active, carrying objects around, playing with seaweed, and surfing in the waves. If a member of the pod is hurt, the others will stay close by and help the injured animal to the surface to breath. Bottlenose dolphins do not migrate, staying in one area to feed. They can live to be more than 30 year old.

Range: Found in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.


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