Bottlenose dolphin

(Tursiops truncatus)


Bottlenose dolphin IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

A short beaked dolphin with a high dorsal fin with a broad base, situated about midway from snout to flukes. The colour is dark grey dorsally and light grey ventrally. The Bottlenose dolphin weights about 150-350 kg with maximum head and body length of about 4 m, with males being larger than females. They feed on squid, shrimp, eels, and a wide variety of fishes. The Bottlenose Dolphin is usually traveling in groups of as many as a dozen, but they have been seen in aggregations of several hundred. Group size is affected by habitat structure and tends to increase with water depth. Group members interact closely and are highly cooperative in feeding, protective, and nursery activities. These dolphins make numerous sounds and are probably both good echolocators and highly communicative.


The taxonomy of the genus Tursiops has been somewhat confused. While a few years ago most researchers agreed that there is a single species, Tursiops truncatus, with a number of regional forms, such as T. gilli (California and Mexican Pacific coast), T. nuuanu (offshore Pacific, including the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) and T. aduncus (South Africa, Australia), the view currently dominating is that there are two species of bottlenose dolphins: The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus).

Did you know?
that bottlenose dolphins often cooperate when hunting and catching fish? In open waters, dolphins sometimes encircle a large school of fish and herd them into a tight ball for easy feeding Occasionally dolphins will herd fish to shallow water where they are easy prey.


Name (Scientific) Tursiops truncatus
Name (English) Bottlenose dolphin
Name (French) Grand Dauphin
Name (German) Grosstümmler
Name (Spanish) Delfín mular
Local names Afrikaans: Stompnuisdolfyn
Brazil: Golfinho-de-nariz-de-garrafa
Danish: Oresvin
Dutch: Tuimelaar
Italian: Tursiope troncato
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II Protected under ASCOBANS Protected under ACCOBAMS



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Range The genus Tursiops with two closely related species occurs in cold temperate to tropical oceans and seas worldwide.
Habitat In warm, shallow inshore waters, commonly seen in bays and lagoons
Wild population 600.000 individuals (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 101 Tursiops truncatus and 18 Tursiops aduncus reported to ISIS (2007).

In the Zoo

Bottlenose dolphin


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 55 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Sander van Duuren

Why do zoos keep this animal

Cetacean Sensation—The Value of Whales and Dolphins at Zoological Parks


Marine life parks have learned a great deal about whales and dolphins from ongoing research programmes. In the protected environment of a marine life park, scientists can examine aspects of cetacean biology that are difficult or impossible to study in the wild. Breeding and cutting edge artificial insemination programmes have dramatically increased our understanding of cetacean reproduction. Such studies may one day help to conserve species facing extinction such as Amazon River dolphins.


But that’s only part of the story. Through educational programmes and guest visitation, millions of children and adults have been given the rare opportunity to experience whales and dolphins in a unique way. There is an old African saying that goes "You will love with your heart what you see with your eyes." Marine life parks educate millions of people every year on the threats whales and dolphins face. Through zoological facilities, visitors have a chance to see, touch and view whales and dolphins. This connection bonds humans to these animals and inspires stewardship far more than simply seeing them in a book or on TV.


Of course the bottle-nose dolphin is also an excellent ambassador for its ecosystem and may serve as a flagship species for awareness campaigns dealing with threats to the marine environment such as Deadline - Das Meer will leben !), a joint effort of YaquPacha and WAZA.