Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus


Dolphins use tools such as sponges to protect their rostrum (beak) while foraging on the bottom of the ocean.

Exhibit Name and Location:
Baltimore - Pier 4 Pavilion

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Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

The bottlenose dolphin is perhaps one of the most commonly seen cetaceans in the world.

Bottlenose dolphins are light to slate gray on the upper part (dorsal surface) of their bodies, fading to lighter gray on the sides and pale gray or pink on the belly. The dorsal fin is tall and curves toward the rear of the animal.

The flukes (tail fins) are curved with a deep notch in the middle, and the pectoral (side) fins are of medium length and pointed.

This dolphin has a robust body with a short stubby rostrum (beak), which earned it the name "bottlenose."

There are 86 to 100 sharp, cone-shaped teeth in its mouth, which allow the animal to grasp slippery prey.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Facts


The dolphin's varied diet includes fish, squid, and crustaceans. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins exhibit a diverse range of feeding strategies: they may hunt cooperatively (often herding fish into tight circles), feed in association with fishing boats, dig in the sand to uncover food items, or chase fish onto mudbanks.


Adults reach 6–12 feet in length and weigh 400–800 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females.


Bottlenose dolphins are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, often along coastlines or in bays, harbors, or estuaries

Population Status

While bottlenose dolphins are not endangered, some populations are depleted. In U.S. waters, they are protected by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. Coastal populations may be especially vulnerable to habitat degradation, including high levels of pollutants from human activities both onshore and in the water.


Bottlenose dolphins are a top predator in the ocean, with few predators of their own. Sharks and killer whales occasionally prey upon dolphins.

Major threats come from humans. Dolphins are accidentally caught in fishing gear (gill nets, purse seines, and shrimp trawls) and become entangled in discarded fishing gear or monofilament line. Humans harass and feed wild dolphins, and in some parts of the world kill them directly.

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Allison Ginsburg
Acting Curator of Marine Mammals

pressroom striped fish

As the acting curator of marine mammals, Allison oversees the training, enrichment and health of our colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins! Learn More

A Note From the Caretaker

The social structure of the dolphins at the Aquarium is modeled after life in the wild. Females live together most of their lives in a social group. Male calves leave their mom’s group after five or six years, forming bonds with other males and traveling from female group to female group for breeding. At the Aquarium, we have a female group and a bonded group of two juvenile males.


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