Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have a light to slate gray dorsal surface, fading to lighter gray on their sides with a pale gray or pink belly.
The dorsal fin is tall and curves toward the rear of the animal. The fluke, or tail fin, is curved with a deep notch in the middle, and the pectoral, or side, fins are medium length and pointed.
These dolphins have robust bodies and are named “bottlenose” after their short, stubby rostrums, or beaks. Bottlenose dolphins have 86 to 100 sharp, cone-shaped teeth which help to catch slippery prey.
Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Facts
Diet includes fish, squid and crustaceans. Bottlenose dolphins exhibit a range of feeding strategies, including cooperative hunting (often herding fish into tight circles), feeding in association with fishing boats, digging in the sand to uncover food and chasing fish onto mud banks.
Adults reach six to 12 feet in length and weigh 400 to 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.
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 on and offshore.
Bottlenose dolphins are top ocean predators with few predators of their own. Sharks and killer whales occasionally prey upon dolphins. Humans represent a major threat to bottlenose dolphins who are accidentally caught in fishing gear (gill nets, purse seines and shrimp trawls) or entangled in discarded gear and monofilament line. Dolphins are still hunted in some parts of the world.
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