Name: Bottlenose Dolphin
Species: Tursiops truncatus
dolphins belong to the Mammalian Order Cetacea, in the
suborder Odontoceti. All toothed whales belong to the
suborder Odontoceti, which is Latin for "toothed whales".
This dolphin belongs to the oceanic dolphin family,
Delphinidae. Other members of this family include the
killer whale, long-beaked common dolphin, and pilot whale.
The bottlenose dolphin's scientific name is Tursiops
truncatus. The generic name, Tursiops, is
derived from the Roman historian Pliny's reference to a
dolphin-like fish, tursio. The suffix ops
means "to look like". The specific name, truncatus,
means "shortened or cut-off", referencing this species'
stubby rostrum. The animal's scientific name means "a
dolphin like animal with a shortened snout".
species is easily identified by its stubby rostrum.
Bottlenose dolphins vary in size throughout their range,
reaching lengths from 8-12ft and weighing as much as
1400lbs. Males are larger than females. They are gray in
color, with a whitish underbelly. Unlike most oceanic
dolphins species, five of the seven neck vertebra of the
bottlenose dolphin are not fused. This gives the animal
greater neck flexibility. A second species of bottlenose
dolphin, Tursiops adunctus, inhabits the
Indian Ocean alongside this species.
range extends throughout all oceans. Temperate and tropical
waters are preferred. They are commonly observed living
near inlets, harbors and estuaries. Groups living mainly
offshore have also been recorded. Bottlenose dolphins eat a
variety of vertebrate and invertebrate ocean species. Their
diet is composed primarily of fish, but squid and
crustaceans are also consumed.
dolphin males form "alliances" with one or two other males.
This small group of males will then kidnap a female
dolphin. Throughout her kidnap, the most dominant male will
repeatedly mate with her. She is eventually released. The
impregnated dolphin bears a single calf after a gestation of
12 months. The calf will nurse for over a year, remaining
with its mother for a total of 3-6 years. Females reach
sexual maturity at 5-10 years of age, with males sexually
maturing at 10 years.
Large numbers of
bottlenose dolphins still exist. However, some dangers
still threaten this species. Tuna nets and shrimp trawls
can accidentally capture and drown dolphins. Necessary
alterations of these nets now allow dolphins to escape.
Other human activities endanger dolphins, such as pollution,
habitat encroachment, and human feeding. Boat collisions
are also not uncommon. A large die off in the late eighties
was attributed to the morbillivirus. Scientists determined
that PCB's weakened the dolphins' immune systems, resulting
in the contraction of the disease.