Bottlenose dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Bottlenose dolphin Bottlenose dolphin
The Bottlenose dolphin is by far the best known of all dolphins by the public, starring in many television series and aquariums.
It has recently been discovered by scientists that Bottlenose dolphin is actually two distinct species:
  1. Tursiops truncatus (Common bottlenose dolphin)
  2. Tursiops aduncus (Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphin)
Tursiops truncatus tends to be bigger than Tursiops aduncus and, unlike its smaller cousin, it does not develop ventral spotting when it reaches sexual maturity.
The Bottlenose is a large and robust dolphin, with a typical uniformly gray colour, though minor changes can be noticed at close range depending on geographical distribution (and even from one individual to another). The rostrum is stocky and a well defined melon crease separates it from the forehead.
Bottlenose dolphins are very powerful swimmers and often display a variety of playful and acrobatic behaviours such as breaching, lobtailing, bow-riding and wake-riding.
Interestingly, they may be found in association with a variety of other animals, including other dolphins, whales, fish and turtles.
The diet of Bottlenose dolphin is mainly based on fish and cephalopods (e.g. squids).
It is very common for sexually mature female Bottlenose dolphins to form social unit of 5 to 13 individuals, plus their calves and juveniles. These are often called female bands. Once weaned, young dolphins leave the mother's group and tend to associate with other juveniles of both sexes, forming subadult groups. Upon reaching sexual maturity, a female will then join a female band, while a male often associates with another male of the same age. Male pairs only join female bands for mating.
Lone individuals are known, most of which stay in the same area for many years, often making friends among humans along the coast.
Tursiops truncatus is well known for its signature whistles, unique to each individual. Interestingly, a male Bottlenose calf tends to develop a signature whistle similar to his mother's, whereas the whistle of a female calf differs substantially from her mother's one. A possible explanation could be the need for a young female not to be confused with her mother once she has grown up and comes back to the female band where she was born.