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Dolphin (Bottlenose)

Tursiops truncates
Dolphin (Bottlenose)

Range

They are found throughout the temperate and tropical oceans.

Habitat

They live out in the open ocean, but are more often found near the coastlines, in harbors, bays, lagoons, and where rivers meet the ocean.

Body Traits

They are slate bluish-gray and lighter underneath. They can be up to 12 feet long (4 m) and weigh up to1,400 pounds (650 kg), though most are smaller. Males are larger than females. They have a dorsal fin on the middle of their backs that sticks out of the water when they swim near the surface. It is different from a shark’s fin, being curved backward. The tail fins are called “flukes.” They breathe through blowholes on the top of their heads.

Habits

They can swim up to 20 miles per hour (35 km/h), but usually swim about half that while traveling. They breathe air, so have to come to the surface to breathe about every 5-8 minutes, though usually they breathe more often than that. They don’t breathe through their nose or mouth but through special blowholes on the top of their heads. This allows them to keep their eyes in the water, to watch for predator or prey.

They live in groups called “pods.” Pods stay together for many years and can be made up of all females and young, or young males and females. Adult males often live alone but join pods from time to time to find a mate.

Bottlenose dolphins are known for being friendly and curious about humans who come into the water near them. There are even reports of dolphins rescuing injured swimmers by bringing them to the surface or protecting humans from sharks. These are things they do for other bottlenose dolphins, but no one knows why they do them for humans.

Diet

They eat fish, squid and crabs swallowing prey whole. They have to eat up to 30 pounds (15 kg) of food a day. They use a type of sonar, called “echolocation” to find prey. They send out a clicking call and listen to how it bounces off of things in that water to locate prey. They often follow fishing boats looking for fish.

Predators

They are preyed upon by big sharks and sometimes even killer whales. Dolphins can defend themselves from sharks with bites and head butts. They are sometimes killed by fisherman and by becoming entangled in fishing nets and drowning.

Reproduction

Females are pregnant for 12 months (gestation). Babies are born right in the water (calving). They nurse milk for up to 1.5 years. They stay with their mother for up to 6 years. They learn their life skills from their mothers.

Lifespan and/or Conservation Status

They can live for up to 40 years. Their conservation status is unknown.

Dolphin (Bottlenose)

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Odontoceti
Family: Delphinidae
Genus: Tursiops
Species: Tursiops truncatus

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