Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
Search the Archive

  Cetacea · Delphinidae · Tursiops truncatus
   Smithsonian Institution
   Copyright Notice
   Privacy Notice
Tursiops truncatus

Bottlenose Dolphin

Order: Cetacea
Family: Delphinidae

Click to see adaptations.    Click to see a 3-D view.
Image of Tursiops truncatus
Tursiops truncatus - inset shows high leaps
Click to enlarge. (52 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Bottlenose dolphins have widely spaced eyes, relatively long flippers, a rounded forehead (called a melon), a relatively short, broad snout, and a mouth that seems permanently twisted into a grin. Inside the mouth are as many as 100 teeth. Highly social, bottlenose dolphins often swim in groups of several hundred individuals, and are famous for racing alongside watercraft. Some stay in coastal waters and others swim offshore. In the Atlantic, the coastal dolphins feed mostly on sea trout, croakers, and spot. The offshore population follows the Gulf Stream and feeds on deep-water fish and squid. Three different populations have been identified in the North Pacific: a temperate-water group, a tropical-water group, and a coastal group.

Also known as:
Gill's Bottlenose Dolphin, Grand Souffleur, Oudre, Souffleur, Tursion

Range: 2.6-3.4 m

Range: 200 kg


Montagu 1821.  Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society, 3:75, pl. 3.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Tursiops truncatus

Image of Tursiops truncatus
Click to enlarge. (49kb)

Bones and Teeth
Tursiops truncatus
Top view (dorsal) of right forelimb, including humerus, on the left, forearm bones, wrist and digit. Click to enlarge. (9kb)