Bottlenose Dolphin - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

Image from
Image from

Fact Sheet

Common Name: Bottlenose Dolphin

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus

Length as an adult: Adult length is from 8-12 feet (2.5-3.8 m).

Weight as an adult: These dolphins may weigh as much as 1,430 pounds (650 kg) off Great Britain, though most are much smaller in other parts of the world.

Length and weight at birth: 3-4 ½ ft (0.85-1.3m) 35-65 lb (15-30 kg)

Length of pregnancy: Calves nurse for over a year (12-18 months), and stay with their mothers for 3-6 years learning how to catch fish and other important tasks.

Range: Bottlenose dolphins are found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters, absent only from 45 degrees poleward in either hemisphere. There appear to be two ecotypes: a coastal form and an offshore form. In some areas, dolphins have limited home ranges; in others, they are migratory. A second species Tursiops aduncus inhabits the Indian Ocean.

Likelihood of being seen on a whale watch in Massachusetts coastal waters: Low

Preferred food: Bottlenose dolphins eat a wide variety of food, primarily fishes, and sometimes squid, and crustaceans.

Unusual characteristics: Dolphins are trained by the Navy to deliver equipment to divers, locating and retrieving lost objects, guarding boats and submarines.

Appearance: The color of the bottlenose dolphin varies considerably, but generally this dolphin is light gray to slate gray on the upper part of the body shading to lighter sides and pale, pinkish gray on the bell.

General Information:

  1. Bottlenose Dolphins are mammals.
  2. Bottlenose Dolphins can swim up to 260 m. below the surface of the ocean.
  3. Bottlenose Dolphins can stay up to 15 minutes under water.
  4. Bottlenose Dolphins use a technique called echolocation to find food and navigate.
  5. Bottlenose Dolphins are social beings.

Unusual habits: None

Population status: This species is considered to be abundant in its entire range.

Threats: Ship strike, entanglement in fishing gear.


Prepared by: Licia Vieira