- "Flipper". Fairly plain gray with no bold patterns , this is the most commonly seen Atlantic dolphin .
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Aleut:
Common Names in Czech:
delfín skákavý, sviňucha jižní
Common Names in Danish:
Common Names in Dutch:
Common Names in English:
Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphin, Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin, Bottle-nose dolphin, bottle-nosed dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, bottlenosed dolphin, Common bottlenose dolphin, Cowfish, Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin, Offshore Bottlenose Dolphin, Spectacled porpoise
Common Names in French:
dauphin souffleur, Dauphin nesarnak, Grand dauphin, Grand souffler, Oudre, Souffleur, Tursion, Tursiops
Common Names in German:
Großer Tümmler, Grosser Tümmleer, Hochcöplige Tümmler, Oresvin Tantöje, Tümmler
Common Names in Italian:
Delfino maggiore, Tursione, Tursiope
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Latvian:
Common Names in Norwegian:
Common Names in Portuguese:
boto, Bouto, Peixe-boto, Roaz corvineiro
Common Names in Russian:
Afalina, Chernvi delfin, Ofalina
Common Names in Spanish:
Delf?n Mular, Delf, DelfÃn tonina, Delfín tonina, Mular, Pez mular, Tursi?n, Tursión
Common Names in Swedish:
Common Names in Turkish:
The family Delphinidae has been called a 'taxonomic trash basket', because many small to medium-sized odontocetes of various forms have been lumped together in this group for centuries. Consequentely, the so-called delphinids are diverse in form. They range in size from 1 to 1.88 m dolphins of the genera Sotalia and Cephalorhynchus, to the killer whale , in which males can reach lengths of at least 9.8 m. However, most delphinids share the following characteristics: a marine habitat , a noticeable beak , conical teeth, and a large falcate dorsal fin set near the middle of the back. There are exceptions to everyone of these rules , except the presence of basically conical teeth.
Species Tursiops truncatus
Made famous by the television show Flipper, the Bottlenose Dolphin
is a large, robust
animal with a slightly hooked
broad dorsal fin.
Size and some physical characteristics vary according to the distribution
of each individual. In smaller forms, the well-known bottle-shaped
is shorter and slender. It broadens as the body size increases.
In some populations the melon is more rounded
. Body colour
the dorsal cape
from dark blue to brown-grey, fading to a
grey along the flanks. The ventral surface is white-pink, and
of the snout is normally white. Tail flukes
and the flippers'
are grey-black. Dark lines
from melon to eye and eye to flipper
can also be seen. Some populations are spotted, or a dark grey-black.
The Bottlenose Dolphin measures between 1.9m and 4m, weighing 90-650kg.
Recognition at sea : The Bottlenose Dolphin cannot really be confused with other species - for instance, the spotted variety is more bulky in appearance than other mottled species, such as the Pantropical and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins . The broad dorsal cape and shorter snout should discern this animal from the Rough-Toothed Dolphin, which has a more cone-shaped head . In coastal waters , the size and shape of the dorsal fin should be enough to distinguish between the Bottlenose Dolphin and other local species, such as the Tuxuci, which has a more triangular fin .
from 1.9 to 3.8m, weighing up to 650kg. There is tremendous
between populations, as different groups, known as ecotypes,
are adapted to the different conditions in which they live.
Longevity : At least 30 years (approximately).
Coastal and Oceanic species. Populations generally occur in water in less than 30 miles from shore . Found in open coasts with strong surf to sheltered bays and waterways , lagoons , large estuaries and the lower reaches of rivers .
The Fiordland bottlenose dolphins exhibit many characteristics that appear to reflect constraints imposed by their cold-water habitat . They are physically larger than coastal conspecifics found in warmer waters, with rotund bodies and comparatively shorter flukes , fins and rostrum (Schneider 1999). The dolphins are found in large groups, sometimes comprising an entire local unit , and show strong , long-lasting associations within and between sexes (Lusseau et al. 2003), unlike the fission-fusion societies typical of many other bottlenose dolphin subpopulations (Connor et al. 2000).
The Doubtful-Thompson Sound local unit’s habitat use changes seasonally in apparent response to water temperature (Schneider 1999). Water temperatures in the inner parts of the fiords are cooler than open coast in winter and warmer in summer. In winter, the dolphins avoid the inner regions of the fiord, remaining closer to the open ocean, while in summer the dolphins are found in the inner sections of the fiord where they calve in the warmer waters (Schneider 1999, Haase and Schneider 2001). Seasonal patterns in bottlenose dolphin distribution relating to water temperature are unusual and are typically only observed in subpopulations in cool-temperate latitudes (e.g. Wilson et al. 1997, Ingram and Rogan 2002).
Stable isotope studies of exfoliated skin show that the dolphins are reliant on local productivity , feeding primarily on sub-tidal reef fish (Lusseau and Wing 2006). The dolphins have been shown to dive beyond 200m in the deep waters (max depth 434m) of Doubtful Sound (Schneider 1999).
List of Habitats:
- 5 Wetlands (inland)
- 5.1 Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls )
- 9 Marine Neritic
- 9.1 Marine Neritic - Pelagic
- 9.10 Marine Neritic - Estuaries
- 10 Marine Oceanic
- 10.1 Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
- 10.2 Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)
- 13 Marine Coastal/Supratidal
- 13.4 Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes [more info]
Feeding behaviour is extremely varied, depending on what is available. They may co-operate to forage on large schools of fish, or chase individual fish inshore. They have also been seen feeding behind trawlers and other fishing boats . This adaptability in feeding has undoubtedly contributed to their success, and enabled them to range so extensively.
Life Span: 30+ years. Gestation period : 12 months. Peak seasons for mating: May and June. Calving interval: two to three years. Nursing lasts: calves suckle for up to 18 months. Sexual maturity begins at 9-10 for males and 10-13 years for females.
Bottlenose Dolphins live in fairly open groups, generally containing no more than 20 animals, but large herds have been seen offshore. They commonly associate with other dolphin species, and sometimes they may interbreed.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- (C. Linnaeus, 1766) McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Brisson, 1762) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Haeckel, 1866
- (Flower, 1869) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- Superfamily: Delphinoidea () - (Gray, 1821) Flower, 1864
- Parvorder: Odontoceti () - (Flower, 1869) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- Infraorder: Autoceta () - Haeckel, 1866
- Suborder: Cetacea () - (Brisson, 1762) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Order: Cetartiodactyla () - C. Linnaeus, 1758
- Mirorder: Eparctocyona () - McKenna, 1975
- Grandorder: Ungulata () - (C. Linnaeus, 1766) McKenna, 1975
- Superorder: Preptotheria () - (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- Magnorder: Epitheria () - (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- Cohort: Placentalia () - (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Supercohort: Theria () - (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Infralegion: Tribosphenida () - (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Sublegion: Zatheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Legion: Cladotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Superlegion: Trechnotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Infraclass: Holotheria () - (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Subclass: Theriiformes () - (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Class: Mammalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Delphinus troncatus • Delphinus truncatus • Delphinus truncatus (Montagu, 1821). • Tursiops gephyreus • Tursiops gilli • Tursiops nuuanu
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 05-Dec-2008
All bottlenose dolphins around the world were previously recognized as T. truncatus, but recently the genus has been split into two species: T. truncatus and T. aduncus (the smaller Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin – Wang et al. 1999, 2000a,b). However, the taxonomy of bottlenose dolphins is confused, due to geographical variation , and it is very possible that additional species will be recognized in the future. For example, two forms in the North Atlantic, an offshore and a coastal form, are distinguishable on the basis of morphology and ecological markers (e.g. , Mead and Potter 1995), have fixed genetic differences and, therefore, eventually may be assigned to different species (Leduc and Curry 1997, Hoelzel et al. 1998, Reeves et al. 2003).
Bottlenose dolphins in the Black Sea are recognized as a subspecies possessing morphological differences from Atlantic and Pacific dolphins (Barabasch-Nikiforov 1960, Geptner et al. 1976). The Black Sea subpopulation is also differentiated genetically from other bottlenose dolphins in the eastern and western Mediterranean and the northeastern Atlantic (Natoli et al. 2005), and the available evidence (Birkun 2006) supports recognition of the subspecies T. t. ponticus. .
The taxonomy of the Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphin was unclear until recently. In the absence of genetic information, the subpopulation was initially assumed to be Tursiops truncatus (Williams et al. 1993, Schneider 1999, Haase 2000). However, the emergence of taxonomic debates regarding Bottlenose Dolphin classification globally (LeDuc et al. 1999), led some to conclude that classifying the subpopulation as T. truncatus may be premature and hence the classification Tursiops sp. or spp. was employed (Lusseau et al. 2003, Lusseau and Wing 2006, Currey et al. 2007, Currey et al. 2008b). A further reason for this approach was that the Fiordland bottlenose dolphins exhibit unusual morphological and sociological characteristics – large, rotund body shapes and long-term close associations – traits that have been attributed to geographic isolation (Schneider 1999, Lusseau et al. 2003) that may have reflected underlying taxonomic differences.
Recently, a genetic study comparing New Zealand Bottlenose Dolphins to samples taken worldwide has concluded the Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphins should be classified as T. truncatus (Tezanos-Pinto et al. 2008). Further, this study revealed coastal subpopulations within New Zealand show a high degree of isolation from each other (FST = 0.171, ?ST = 0.206, P et al. 2008). Pair-wise comparison revealed the Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphins were isolated from both other Bottlenose Dolphin subpopulations in New Zealand: Northland (FST = 0.150, P ST = 0.197, P ST = 0.239, P ST = 0.298, P et al. 2008). Estimates of female migration rates per generation reflected this isolation, with low levels of exchange between Fiordland and Northland (4.89 female migrants per generation 95% CI: 0.02–20.32; 0.19 female emigrants per generation 95% CI: 0.00–1.70) and between Fiordland and the Marlborough Sounds (0.31 female migrants per generation 95% CI: 0.00–3.12; 0.29 female emigrants per generation 95% CI: 0.00–2.01; Tezanos-Pinto et al. 2008). This isolation ensures the Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphins qualify as a discrete subpopulation; hence the criteria for a population are applied(Ref. 312356).
Members of the genus Tursiops
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 6 species and subspecies in this genus:
T. aduncus (Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin) · T. gillii (Gill’s Bottle-Nosed Dolphin) · T. truncatus (Atlantic Bottle-Nosed Dolphin) · T. truncatus aduncus (Southern Bottle-Nosed Dolphin) · T. truncatus ponticus (Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin) · T. truncatus truncatus (Bottle-Nosed Dolphin)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 18, 2007:
- Australian Antarctic Data Centre, National Whale and Dolphin Sightings and Strandings Database
- Australian Antarctic Data Centre, Seabirds of the Southern and South Indian Ocean
- Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Bishop Museum Natural History Specimen Data
- EMAN Provider, PIROP
- European Environment Agency, EUNIS
- Field Museum, Mammal specimens
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, Bay of Fundy Species List
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, CSIRO Marine Data Warehouse
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, Canada Maritimes Regional Cetacean Sightings
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, Cetacean distribution in the South Atlantic and South Pacific Ocean
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, Taxonomic Information Sytem for the Belgian coastal area
- Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, iziko South African Museum - Marine Mammal Collection
- Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Israel Nature and Parks Authority
- Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Vertebrate specimens
- Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, Mammal specimens
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB, Paleobiology Database
- Michigan State University Museum, Vertebrate specimens
- Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, MCZ Mammalogy Collection
- Museum of Texas Tech University
- , Mammal specimens
- Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Terrestrial vertebrate specimens
- Provider, Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums
- Royal Ontario Museum, Mammal specimens
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Musem of Natural History
- Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Mammal Collection
- UK National Biodiversity Network, Highland Biological Recording Group - HBRG Mammals dataset.
- UNIBIO, IBUNAM, CNMA/Coleccion Nacional de Mamiferos
- University of Alaska Museum of the North, University of Alaska Museum Mammal Collection
- University of Alaska Museum of the North, University of New Mexico Museum of Southwestern Biology Mammal Collection
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- , Mammal specimens
- University of Washington Burke Museum, Mammal Specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 105891
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-771139
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2494622
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 180426
- IUCN ID: 247722
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: AMAGE04010
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 178533
- Currey, J.C., Dawson, S. & Slooten, E. 2011. Tursiops truncatus (Fiordland subpopulation). In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 05 February 2012. [back]
- Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. 2008. Tursiops truncatus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 05 February 2012. [back]