Scientific name: Tursiops truncatus
Order: Artiodactyla (Cetacea)
Atlantic bottlenose dolphin
Black sea bottlenose dolphin (subspecies)
Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin (subspecies)
Bottlenose dolphins are large animals that can reach up to 4 meters in length and weigh as much as 650kg.
The dorsal fin is central on the body and is more raked back than in other species of dolphin occurring in the region.
They have grey colouration and a pale underbelly, and a bottle-like stubby beak.
Habitat and distribution
Bottlenose dolphins are found all around the UK from Cornwall to Scotland. They are often spotted in inshore waters, close to the coastline.
They occupy low to mid latitude, temperate to warm waters around the world, including most semi-enclosed seas, and is found both inshore and in deep water. Scottish populations are among the most northerly in the world.
Bottlenose dolphins are social creatures and are often seen in pods of up to 20, although large groups are not common.
They are acrobatic and are often seen leaping out of the water, twisting, and turning, or swimming fast. Famously inquisitive, they have been observed bow riding with boats and ships.
Bottlenose dolphins are known to follow a similar hierarchical grouping to elephants: males will often form bachelor groups, and it is common to have family groups of all females with their calves.
Confusion with other species
Risso’s dolphin - the Risso's dolphin is grey, however, it has a thinner and taller dorsal fin. It also has a snub nose appearance without a beak.
The overall population of bottlenose dolphins is unknown, as they are found in oceans all over the world. Like most marine mammal species, bottlenose dolphins are affected by human activities such as accidental capture in fishing nets, pollution of the seas, and strikes from boats and ships. Bottlenose dolphins are the classic aquarium species, which has led to a drive in demand for them to be taken from the wild, particularly in Japan where they are being hunted.
Bottlenose dolphins have bigger brains than humans.
Some populations have developed cooperative behaviour with coastal fishermen, driving fish toward them and eating the fish that escape the fishermen's nets.