Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Tursiops truncatus

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncatus

Other Names: Gray Porpoise, Black Porpoise, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Atlantic/ Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, Cowfish                   

Suborder: Odontoceti

Family: Delphinidae 

The Bottlenose Dolphin varies in shape, size and colour depending on geographical region but is generally largely grey in colour with no distinct markings on the body. The underside is paler and some individuals have darker capes. There is a characteristic sharp crease between the forehead and the rather stubby beak, giving it its name. Individuals have long, pointed flippers, pointed tail flukes and a prominent dorsal fin.

There are two forms: the offshore form is larger, robust and stockier, is darker in colour with smaller flippers; the inshore form  is smaller and slimmer with longer flippers, a more slender beak and is paler in colour with a darker cape.   More extensive body scaring is noticed in the offshore form and males of both forms. Usually females are slightly larger than males.

Bottlenose Dolphins are notably inquisitive, active and very social. They can often be found in association with other cetaceans, sharks and sea turtles.  Lone, wild, individuals (typically males) may seek out swimmers and small boats. Groups of individuals often provide mutual assistance to other groups and cooperate with local fishers. They are powerful swimmers which spend much time in highly active, playful aerobatics and  can leap several meters out of the water. They typically wake and bow-ride with boats and larger whales.

Maximum Length
Adults are 1.9 - 4.1m.
Newborns are 0.84 – 1.4m.

Maximum Weight
Adults 150 - 650kg
Newborns are 15 – 30kg

Bottlenose Dolphin Ecology

Range: Tropical and temperate waters between 45°N and 45°S at surface water temperatures between 10°C to 32°C.

Usual Habitat: Can be found both offshore and inshore.

Usual group size: Inshore groups vary from 1 - 10 and offshore groups are larger (1 - 25). Up to 1,000 individuals have been seen together.

Main Diet: Fish, squid, srimp and other crustaceans. They use a wide variety of hunting techniques.

Local population: Unknown

Global range of the Bottlenose Dolphin

The dark blue indicates where Bottlenose Dolphins are likely to be found

 Conservation Information

Protection and Conservation Status

IUCN Conservation Status: 
Bottlenose Dolphins are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list.

SPAW Protocol:  Bottlenose Dolphins are cetaceans, which are listed under Annex II of the SPAW protocol. As such they require total protection under article 11 of this protocol which prohibits the "taking, possession, killing and commercial trade of the species, their parts or products". The SPAW protocol was created to help with the implementation and promotion of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Annexes of the SPAW protocol can be found here.

Local Laws: Cetaceans are protected under the Conservation of Wildlife Act of Trinidad and Tobago which offers protection to all species not listed under the second or third schedules of this act.

Reports of Bottlenose Dolphins in Trinidad and Tobago

This is currently being researched and written. It will appear here shortly.


The above information was obtained from the following sources:

  • A Princeton Field Guide: Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett (2006)
  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises by Mark Carwardine and illustrated by Martin Camm (2002)
  • The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's Species Guide at
  • The IUCN Redlist at
  • The SPAW protocol Annexes with links available at,83

We would like to thank the following people for the use of the art work and photographs:

  • Alësha Naranjit (Illustration of Bottlenose Dolphin)
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