Bottlenose dolphin

Theme area:  Dolphin Island and Lagoon
Scientific name:  Tursiops truncatus
Class:  Mammals
Order:   Cetaceans
Suborder:   Odontocetes
Family:   Delphinidae
Continent:  All oceans
Habitat:  Coastal and/or pelagic habitats
Diet:  Piscivore
Weight:  180 - 650 kg
Size:  1.9 - 3.8 m
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European Ex-situ Programme (EEP)

European Ex-situ Programme (EEP)




Sexual dimorphism is not very pronounced in the Bottlenose dolphin.  Males and females vary greatly depending on the region of the globe.  They measure between 1.9 and 3.8 m and weigh between 180 and 650 kg.  Females are mature between 6 and 13 years old. For males, it is between 9 and 13 years old.

At birth, the calf measures 1 to 1.3 m. and weighs 20 kg.  Lactation lasts between 1.5 and 2 years, although it can last longer if the female is not expecting another calf.

Lifespan: this depends greatly on each population. Some populations live only 17 years on average, others a little more.  We can therefore say 20 years on average, with some animals exceeding 35 years in lifespan.

Amongst the 36 species of dolphins, it is the species that is most known to the general public because of its frequent presence in marine parks.



The bottlenose dolphin is found in almost all of the world's seas, with the exception of the polar regions.



There are two ecotypes that are found in different habitats. One lives mainly on the continental slope and coasts.  It is the most studied and well-known ecotype due to its proximity to humans.  The other is pelagic, it lives in the open sea.



The Bottlenose dolphin is cosmopolitan and opportunistic. It therefore adapts its behaviour to its environment.  It lives in fission-fusion type social structures.  The community is made up of sub-groups which associate and dissociate according to environmental conditions and the time of year.  The size of the group depends on the density of predators and prey. The group will be large if there is a high density of predators and/or prey. On the other hand, if there are few predators and prey, the group will be smaller.  There is no real reproductive period.  Gestation lasts one year.  Certain mother/calf associations or alliances between males can last for many years.



The Bottlenose dolphin is opportunistic.  It feeds mainly on fish and cephalopods. Most of its prey does not exceed 30 cm in length, as this dolphin does not chew its prey. Once caught, the prey is swallowed whole using its aproximately 80 identical cone-shaped teeth.

The way they hunt varies according to where they live and ranges from solitary hunting to complex techniques that are passed on from generation to generation like a culture, such as gathering the bench of fish, pushing the prey onto the muddy banks of a river, following trawlers and taking the shrimps or fish caught in the nets.



Bottlenose dolphins fall victim to accidental entanglement in fishing nets, overfishing, competition with fishermen, pollution and habitat degradation.



Consume fish from ecologically responsible fishing.

Reduce sources of pollution and destruction of the natural environment.



Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Near threatened
Least concern
Insufficient data
Not evaluated


In humans, breathing is managed by the cerebellum, which makes breathing unconscious. In the dolphin, like all cetaceans, breathing is managed at the level of the brain, which makes breathing conscious.
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