Common Name:Bottlenose dolphin
Latin Name:Tursiops truncatus
Other Names:Grey porpoise, Black porpoise, Cowfish
Primary Classification:Odontocete (Toothed whale, dolphin or porpoise)
Bottlenose dolphins vary greatly in size. It's quite possible for two to be a very different size, shape and colour from one another, even if they live in the same school. If they come from different populations, they will probably be even more different. Some of the world's largest bottlenose dolphins, for example, live around the United Kingdom. They can be a good metre longer than those living off Florida in the USA, and will probably be fatter with shorter beaks.There seem to be two main types of bottlenose: inshore dolphins (living nearer the coast) that are smaller and thinner, and offshore dolphins that are larger and fatter. Their size will also depend on the temperature of the water they live in - the colder it is, the more blubber they need!
The easiest way of recognising a bottlenose is to look out for an obvious dark and curved-back dorsal fin on a lively grey dolphin!
They can, however, quite easily be confused with other dolphins such as spotted and humpback dolphins. The shape of their dorsal fin, along with nicks, scratches and other markings on their skin, are what researchers use to identify individual bottlenose dolphins.
They have between 40 and 52 teeth in their upper jaw and 36 - 48 teeth in their lower jaw.
Robust body, Round melon, Single blowhole, Pointed flippers, Dark cape (area of the back around the dorsal fin), Lighter under-side (belly), Fast active swimmer, Often bow-rides
Bottlenose dolphins from different parts of the world are very different sizes. There can be as much as a two metre difference between some adults, they can range from 1.9 to 4 metres in length (6.25 - 13 ft). New-borns can also vary quite a lot in length, they can be anything between 85cm and 1.3 metres (34in - 4.25 ft).
As with length, bottlenoses can be very different weights especially depending on where they live. Some of them are more than four times as heavy as others! Adults can weigh between 150 and 650 kg (330 - 1435 lb) and new-borns between 15 and 30 kg (35 - 65 lb).
Fish, crustaceans, squid
Bottlenose dolphins are very active dolphins and are often seen bow-riding, surfing, lobtailing and breaching. They can leap several metres out of the water. They can also sometimes be seen playing 'games' with things such as seaweed, or other animals. Bottlenoses, like many other whales and dolphins, are social animals and, although they can be found on their own, they tend to live in family groups called 'schools'. These can contain anything from just two or three dolphins to 500! Within these schools, they tend to spend time with similar individuals - females and young calves are often found together, older calves spend time with each other and males form their own groups. Sometimes families may team up with other families, looking after one another and providing support in times of hardship and danger. The way bottlenose dolphins feed and catch their food can vary quite a lot depending on where they live. They change their behaviour and work out clever ways of catching food that suit their situation. For example, dolphins chase fish onto the shore and then roll up on the beach to catch them. Bottlenoses can be seen "fish-wacking"; stunning fish by flicking them into the air with their tail flukes and then picking them up from the surface of the water.