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Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

bottle nose dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphines (Photo: Annie B. Douglas,

Bottlenose dolphins are cosmopolitan in distribution, occurring in most coastal areas in temperate and tropical regions of the world. They are the most common marine mammal along the U.S. southeastern and Gulf of Mexico coasts. In the western North Atlantic, bottlenose dolphins belong to either of two different ecotypes, coastal or offshore. These ecotypes are distinguished on the basis of their distribution, genetic composition, morphology, parasites, and prey. Relatively little is known about the distribution of the offshore ecotype, which typically occurs in deep waters of the continental shelf and inner continental slope. In coastal areas dolphins occur along the outer coastline and in bays, sounds, inlets, estuaries, and other inland waters.

Range and Habitat:

Found in most coastal areas in temperate and tropical regions

Status under Law:

W. North Atlantic coastal migratory stock - depleted (MMPA)

All other stocks - Not listed

Conservation issues:

Incidental take in commercial gillnets, disease outbreaks, small population units, contaminants, feeding and swimming with wild dolphins, management for public display, management of captive swim-with-the-dolphin programs

Physical characteristics:

At Birth At Maturity
Length 84-140 cm
2.4-3.8 m
Weight 14-20 kg
(31-44 lb)
260-500 kg
(570-1,100 lb)


Approximately 50 years

Annual Report:

For more information, see the Bottlenose Dolphin section from the 2002 Annual Report

Download a copy: PDF (191 KB)

Additional Links:

National Marine Fisheries - Service Stock Assessment Reports

National Marine Mammal Laboratory - Detailed Information about Bottlenose Dolphins


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