Universally loved, dolphins are our best known animals. Bottlenose dolphins inhabit both temperate and tropical waters and are usually found in pods, or schools. In North America, the bottlenose dolphin is found along both coasts of the United States. In the Atlantic, it is the most common dolphin species along the eastern coast from Cape Cod through the Gulf of Mexico.
The robust body with a short stubby rostrum (beak), earning it the name “bottlenose.” The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) grows to be 7-10 feet long and weighs between 300-500 pounds. The calf is usually 28 to 36 inches long and weighs 25 to 40 pounds at birth, after a gestation of 11 to 12 months.
There are two forms of the bottlenose dolphin, of which the coastal or inshore form generally frequents harbors, bays, lagoons and estuaries. The potential life span is as long as 35-50 years, with female dolphins tending to live longer than male. Age is determined by examining a sliced section of a tooth and counting the growth layers, much like you would count the growth rings in a tree.
Dolphins establish dominance with threatening postures and gestures such as smacking their tails on the water, jaw snapping, raking and physical fighting. They are fascinating creatures to watch, because of their tendency to jump out of the water and land on their backs or sides in a behavior called breach. They also communicate through clicks and sounds similar to moans or whistles, which intrigues observers.
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.
Bottlenose dolphins are a top predator in the ocean, with few predators of their own. Sharks and killer whales occasionally prey upon them but the major threat comes from humans interaction when they are caught in fishing gear.
When Nicholas was only six months old, his mother stranded due to a respiratory infection and, being so young, he followed her onto the beach and also became stranded. They both suffered from severe sunburns and, unfortunately, Nicholas’ mother passed away. Nicholas did not have enough time to learn the hunting skills needed to survive on his own in the wild, so he became one of our permanent residents. Read more of Nicholas’ rescue story.
Despite overwhelming odds against survival, Winter’s ability to adapt to her new physical form surpassed expectations. In the process of doing so, Winter’s story has inspired millions all over the world. Read more about Winter’s story.
Hope was found very close to the location where Winter was rescued, exactly 5 years and 1 day later. She was orphaned and brought to CMA for rehabilitation. Hope bonded with Winter and now they are very playful companions, inspiring people everywhere with their friendship. Read more about Hope’s rescue story.