Dolphin Facts

Frequently Asked Questions


What is an common bottlenose dolphin's scientific name?

Tursiops truncatus

Where are common bottlenose dolphins found?

In the United States, common bottlenose dolphins are found from Cape Cod, around the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.

What is an common bottlenose dolphin's habitat?

Common bottlenose dolphins are found in saltwater rivers, bays, estuaries, marshes and in the open ocean.

What does a dolphin eat?

Dolphin's are opportunistic feeders and they will eat most any species of fish available. Some dolphins also eat crustaceans and invertebrates.

Are dolphins camouflaged?

Yes, countershading is a type of camouflage found in many marine species. By having a dark back and a light belly, a bottlenose dolphin will blend into the sunlit surface waters as well as the dark ocean depths. 

How large is a common bottlenose dolphin?

On average, a common bottlenose dolphin will be 8.5 feet long and 400-500 pounds.

Does a dolphin have hair?

Yes, all mammals have hair at some point in their lives and a dolphin is no exception. A baby dolphin (calf) is born with whiskers on its upper jaw (rostrum) which fall out soon after birth.

How does a dolphin stay warm in the cold water?

Very dense body fat called blubber serves as insulation for the dolphin against the cold. Blubber also provides energy for the dolphin when food availability is low and its streamlining effect on the dolphin's body aides with hydrodynamics.

How many teeth does a dolphin have?

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin has 80 - 100 cone-shaped teeth which they use for trapping their prey. Dolphins swallow their food whole without chewing it.

What is echolocation?

Echolocation is a dolphin's ability to receive information by sending sound waves into their environment and then analyzing the returning echoes after they have bounced off of objects in the water. 

How fast does a common bottlenose dolphin swim?

On average, a common bottlenose dolphin will swim 5 - 6 feet/second and may even reach top speeds of over 25 feet/second.

How long can a common bottlenose dolphin hold its breath?

On average, a common bottlenose dolphin can hold its breath for 5 - 7 minutes.

How does a dolphin sleep?

Because they are air-breathing mammals living in the water, dolphins cannot sleep the way that you and I can. Dolphins must remain conscious at all times and for most animals, sleep is an unconscious behavior. For this reason, dolphins will rest by allowing half of their brain at a time to go into a sleep state while the other half maintains awareness of the environment and breathing needs.

How long is a common bottlenose dolphin pregnant for?

12 months.

Does a mother dolphin nurse her young?

Yes, a mother dolphin provides very rich milk for her calf for at least one year and usually longer. A calf has a specially adapted tongue allowing it to form a straw shape for ingesting the milk without ingesting any salt water!

What is a common bottlenose dolphin's lifespan?

In marine mammal facilities accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, such as Dolphin Connection, the average lifespan is over 25 years. In the wild the average lifespan is roughly half of that.

Do dolphins have any predators?

Yes. Sharks and killer whales are natural predators of dolphins.

What is the conservation status of the common bottlenose dolphin?

The species as a whole is not endangered, threatened or vulnerable although localized populations may be. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the bottlenose dolphin as a species of least concern, however threats to the animals - and their habitat - are increasing.

How can I help dolphins?

Being respectful of dolphins is the best way to help them. This is especially important when sharing their habitat as a swimmer, boater or fisherman. You can learn more about this on our Be Respectful page. Participating in beach clean-ups and recycling your fishing line are other great ways you can help.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Dolphin Conservation

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Dolphin Identification

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Is A Dolphin A Fish?

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For more information, visit the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums to view the peer-reviewed animal fact sheets.

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Dolphin Connection strives to Inspire Conservation. We believe that meeting our dolphins can change the way someone sees the world. Maybe they’ll be more likely to pick up a piece of trash or participate in a beach clean-up. How are you making a positive impact on our planet? We can’t wait to hear your stories!

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