Tursiops truncatus - Bottle-nosed dolphin:

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Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Cetacea / Delphinidae / Tursiops / Species
Alternative Names
  • Bottlenose dolphin
  • Delphinus truncatus Montague, 1821; River Dart, Devon, England.
Description Robust dolphin with a relatively short but distinct beak and no distinct markings (B142, D23).


  • About 150-275kg (B142).


  • Adult: 3-3.6m/9-12ft (D23)
  • Male: about 2.7m; female about 2.5-2.6m (B142).
  • Neonate: 98-130cm (B142).

External Appearance:

  • Body: stout torpedo shape,
  • Head: robust with distinct short beak. Tip of lower jaw often has white patch.
  • Teeth: 10-13mm diameter, 18-26 pairs per jaw.
  • Colouration:Dorsal usually brown/dark grey, with flanks paler grey, shading to abdomen white/off-white. Indistinct "cape" from apex of melon, widening caudally from blowhole to dorsal fin then narrowing to thin line behind dorsal fin.
  • Flippers: fairly long, pointed, dark.
  • Dorsal fin: central along back, fairly tall slender sickle-shape., dark at margins but may have centre paler.
  • Tail: stock moderately keeled, flukes curved with deep median notch.

(B142, D23)

Range and Habitat World-wide (B142).

Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean (B51).

  • North-east Atlantic: locally common southern Europe.
  • Britain & Ireland: small populations in scattered localities in bays and estuaries, mainly in west and north. Main concentrations Irish west cost (e.g. Galway Bay, Clew Bay), Wales (Cardigan Bay, Dyfed) and north-east Scotland (Cromarty Firth, Moray Firth).
  • (B142)


  • Britain & Ireland: Seen mainly July to September (B142).


  • Tropical and temperate waters (B51).
  • Mostly coastal waters, also offshore populations (B142).
Further Information Food:

Fish: Mugil, Anguilla, Engraulis, Phoxinus, Alosa spp. (coastal species), and Micromesistius, Trisopterus, Sardinia, Clupea, Gadus, Scomber spp. (offshore)

Squid e.g. Loligo spp. and Cuttlefish Sepia spp.


Feeding Behaviour:

  • Usually alone or in small groups.
  • Sometimes feed co-operatively, herding fish into tight concentrations.
  • (B142).


  • Extended period of births; peak March to May and possibly August to September.
  • Gestation about 12-13 months.
  • Lactation about 19 months.
  • Calving interval probably 19 years.
  • (B142).

Breeding Behaviour:--


  • Generally swim slowly (about 4 km/hour), although can briefly reach 54 km/hour.
  • Often bow-ride
  • Commonly breach from the water.
  • (B142).

Social Behaviour:

  • Usually seen as one to about 25 individuals.
  • Occasionally in large groups.
  • (B142).

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

Individual techniques:

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