Bottlenose Dolphin
Tursiops truncatus

Physical Description

  • Their short, thick beaks are what give them the nickname bottlenose
  • Dark gray on upper back fading to a lighter gray on sides. White to light pink belly
  • Length 6-13 feet
  • Weight 330-1435 pounds


  • Found throughout the tropical and subtropical latitudes around the world


  • Nearshore to open ocean
  • Often found within 20 miles of shore, in harbors, bays, lagoons, estuaries, and around large islands


  • Wide variety of fishes, squid, and crustaceans
  • Bottlenose dolphins may eat 15-30 pounds of fish a day! 


  • They are eaten by killer whales and some large sharks

Interesting Facts

  • Bottlenose dolphins hunt their prey by “fish whacking,” where they strike a fish with their tail flukes and knock it clear out of the water
  • Bottlenose dolphins love to ride the bow waves of boats and are known to interact with people in the wild
  • Marine mammal scientists can recognize individual bottlenose dolphins by their unique markings and their own unique whistles. Some dolphins that spend a lot of time together will even copy each other’s signature whistle! 

Sources: Voices in the Sea; NCEAS; Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Photo: Howard Hall

To hear a bottlenose dolphin’s call and see videos of them swimming, visit Voices in the Sea, a collaboration between the Pacific Life Foundation and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

Come celebrate these amazing animals during Birch Aquarium’s annual Whale Fest!

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