Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

© 2000 by Image Quest 3-D
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Photograph by Carlos Villoch

Bottlenose Dolphins (Order: Cetacea, Family:Delphinidae) are members of the marine dolphin family and are found in all cold temperate to tropical seas worldwide. They occur quite regularly in a range of habitats, from coastal waters to the open ocean and some populations even migrate in response to changing environmental conditions.

All Bottlenose Dolphins are classified as Tursiops truncatus, which is derived from the Latin and Greek words for 'porpoise' and 'face'. Though there are a number of external differences between populations from various parts of the globe, no subspecies are currently recognised, and any such differences are thought to be because of varying environmental conditions.

Made famous by the television show Flipper, the Bottlenose Dolphin is a large, robust animal with a slightly hooked broad dorsal fin. Size and some physical characteristics vary according to the distribution of each individual, for example the size and shape of the beak, body colour and surface markings. This cetacean measures between 1.9m and 4m, weighing 90-650kg and can have a life span of over 30 years.

When feeding, Bottlenose Dolphins tend to prefer shoaling and bottom-dwelling species, feasting upon a wide variety of fish, squid, octopi and cuttlefish. These dolphins have a wide variety of behavioural patterns, haveing been reported individually, in groups of between 10-100 inshore and units of several hundred offshore. They are powerful swimmers and acrobatic in nature, often bowriding and leaping alongside vessels.

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2001 by Image Quest 3-D
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