One of the most loved of the marine animals is the bottlenose dolphin because it is intelligent and social. Dolphins are mammals and must surface to breathe. They live in all temperate zones, and seem to prefer coastal waters on the continental shelf.
The bottlenose dolphin is silver-gray and has a streamlined body designed to swim fast. Dolphins love to hunt and play, and will sometimes jump into the air to look for flocks of sea birds. Though they have good eyesight, dolphins use echolocation to navigate and hunt. With this ability, they hunt fish at any time of day or night. Their diet consists of a variety of fish and crustaceans.
Dolphins swim in pods of a dozen or more animals, sometimes gathering in groups of several hundred. The dolphin’s upright dorsal fin is sometimes mistaken for that of a shark; however, it swims and behaves differently than a shark.
Gestation for the dolphin is around 12 months. The calf is about three-and-half feet (1 m) long when born and nurses from its mother for a year.
Dolphins are curious and people-friendly, and seem to enjoy escorting ships at speed. There are many stories and rumors of dolphins helping stranded and drowning people. Unfortunately, dolphins are sometimes caught in fishermen’s nets and drown. In captivity, dolphins are trained to perform tricks, and thousands of audiences have enjoyed watching their antics.
Cetacea • Delphinidae • Tursiops Truncatus
Weight: 500 pounds (227 kg)
Length: 12 feet (3.9 m)
Life Span: 50 years
Special Design Feature: Dolphins use echolocation to navigate and find food.
Did you know? The dolphin must surface to breathe. They can stay under the water for ten minutes or more.