The National Aquarium and its Animal Care and Rescue Center are temporarily closed in response to COVID-19. Help support us while we are closed by Donating Today.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Atlantic bottlenose dolphin 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.

Dolphin Discovery Exhibit

This exhibit is open for visitors to stop in as many times as they'd like. Guests get a glimpse into the daily life of a dolphin—how they learn, play and interact with each other—and can chat with our marine mammal experts to discover what it's like to care for, teach and build relationships with these incredible animals. On the day of your visit, download the free mobile app on your Apple or Android device, or check the digital screens located at the entrance, in Harbor Overlook and just across the bridge in Pier 4 for the most up-to-date talk times.

Did You Know?

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


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.

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 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.

Back to the Top