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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Infraorder : Cetacea
Family : Delphinidae
Species :
Tursiops truncatus

Total Length : up to 3.8 metres
Weight : Up to 650 kg
Females are slightly smaller than males.

The Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus is the most widespread of the three species of dolphin in the genus Tursiops. It occurs in all oceans except cold, polar regions. In Southeast Asia the species is sympatric with the closely related Indo-pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops aduncus (i.e. it occurs in the same areas and habitats).

T. truncatus is larger than T. aduncus, and the skin color is a more uniform medium grey : it lacks the speckling which occurs on the lower flank and belly of T. aduncus. The snout is  shorter and thicker than that of T. aduncus.

Huge groups or 'pods' of this species comprising over 1000 individuals sometimes occur, but the typical pod size is around 10 to 20 individuals.

Prey items include a variety of fishes, squid and shrimp, which are located by echolocation.  Echolocation comprises a complex series of clicks emitted underwater in the manner of sonar : the resulting echoes allow the animal to determine the location, size and trajectory of underwater prey.

The Common Bottlenose Dolphin is the species which is widely exploited for mindless, human entertainment in oceanariums and aquariums.

The true distribution of this species within the waters of Southeast Asia is somewhat uncertain, given that historical records may have been sightings of T. aduncus. Francis (2008) lists Vietnam and Borneo as confirmed locales.

Fig 1 : Side profile showing the curved dorsal fin.

Fig 2 : Close up of the short, thick snout, which is dark grey on top and pale beneath.

Fig 3 : Part of a pod of 15-20 dolphins seen off the coast of Cape Jackson, South Island, New Zealand.
Photos thanks to Ian Prothero

References : M5



Fig 1 ゥ  Ian Prothero
Fig 2 ゥ  Ian Prothero
Fig 3 ゥ  Ian Prothero