Bottlenose Dolphin

The Common bottlenose dolphin is the archetypal, and possibly most famous species of dolphin. They are the most commonly seen dolphin on television and in aquariums.

Written by edna, May 21 2012

Bottlenose Dolphin

The Common bottlenose dolphin is the archetypal, and possibly most famous species of dolphin. They are the most commonly seen dolphin on television and in aquariums.

Conservation information

Conservation status: Least Concern

The best way to describe the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is to compare it with the Common bottlenose dolphin. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have a longer and more slender beak than the Common bottlenose dolphin and their whole body is smaller and slimmer.

Photographer advice

Since they spend most of their time under the water, consider the lack of contrast compared to land or sky based animals.

Likewise these are fast animals, so a camera with a good shutter speed will pay off with bottlenose dolphins.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Whale spotter Vumanie (Kira) Matiwane tells us about the world famous Bottlenose Dolphin.

Identification – What do bottlenose dolphins look like?

Around Dyer Island, we can encounter the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin which is a sub-species of the bottlenose dolphin.  Their body colour is also lighter than that of the Common bottlenose dolphin. Their belly tends to be white and dark spots appear when the animal reaches sexual maturity. The dorsal fin is large and curved. They usually measure between 2.4 and 2.5 meters long and weigh between 180 and 230 kg. They are usually found in coastal waters and are rarely found in waters deeper than 30 meters. Bottlenose dolphins are therefore commonly in contact with human activities. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the alteration or loss of their habitat.

Diet – What do Bottlenose dolphins eat?

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins mainly eat fish and cephalopods (e.g. squid & ocotopus) that can be found in shallow waters but they can also feed on pelagic and off-shore fish species.

Social – Do Bottlenose dolphins like to socialise?

Bottlenose dolphins live in groups from 5 to 15 individuals but can sometimes be seen in groups of 100 animals or more. The society of these dolphins is believed to be quite stable, with closely related females living together, and groups of adult males, with strong bonds, coming to visit them for mating or feeding.

For both species, births occur predominantly in summer. Females have usually one calf every three years and they take care of their young for at least 3 to 4 years. The female is sexually mature between 5 and 12 years old, the male between 10 and 12 years. The gestation period (pregnancy) is one year. The calf measures approximately 90 to 130 centimetres long at birth with an average weight of 30 kg, and is born tail first. The female will nurse the calf with milk for approximately 18 to 24 months and the young animal will start to have a mixed diet (milk and fish) between 9 and 12 months.

Fun Fact: Using a technique similar to sonar, bottlenose dolphins send ultrasounds through the water, which is then bounced back to the animal which can be used to navigate and detect potential food sources.

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