bottlenose dolphin illustration

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetartiodactyla
Suborder Odontoceti
Family Delphinidae
Genus Tursiops
Species truncatus

Common bottlenose dolphins are 6.6 to 13 feet long (2-4 m) and adults averagely weigh 600 lb (300 kg).

Female bottlenose dolphins can live more than 50 years. Males have a lifespan of about 40-45 years.

They mostly eat a large variety of fish, using techniques that can differ depending on their habitat. Like most dolphins, they don’t use their teeth to chew but to grasp fish, swallowing their prey whole!

Bottlenose dolphins can be found in almost all tropical and temperate regions, in both coastal and offshore oceanic waters.

Threats to Bottlenose Dolphins
Habitat degradation, prey depletion caused by overfishing, incidental mortality in fishing nets and gear (or bycatch), anthropogenic (human-created) noise

Current Population Trend Unknown

Conservation Status
Least Concern

The IUCN Red List tracks the conservation status of organisms around the world. Visit the Red List to learn more about the conservation status of common bottlenose dolphins.

OCS Research Insights

416 distinct bottlenose dolphin individuals have been identified so far by our research team in the Southern California Bight.

Learn more about OCS research
Read the scientific paper

About 80% of bottlenose dolphins in our study area off California show visible skin diseases.

Learn more about this research
Read the scientific paper

A pod of bottlenose dolphins once “guided” our OCS researchers to rescue a suicidal girl.

Read the entire story in the book Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist


Bottlenose Dolphin Facts

• They are the most intensively studied and best-known dolphins in the world. (Flipper was one of them!)

• Each bottlenose dolphin dorsal fin is unique – scientists identify individuals by taking photos of these fins, a process known as photo-identification.

• Bottlenose dolphins live in fission-fusion societies, meaning the size and composition of their groups keep changing.

• Mothers and their calves form strong bonds and stay together for several years – sometimes for life!


Protect whales and dolphins now and for future generations


Here's how you can help

Learn Safe Observation

Learn how to safely observe whales, dolphins and other marine mammals - whether from a boat, surfboard or when kayaking or swimming.

Report Injuries or Harassment

Know who to contact if you encounter marine animals who are injured, in distress, or those being harassed by humans or boats.

Support Marine Research

OCS conducts one of the longest-running investigations on wild dolphins and whales existing worldwide. Learn more about research projects that help ensure the protection of these animals for generations to come.

Share Your Knowledge!

Ocean conservation starts with education. Share this page by copy/pasting its URL into your social media accounts to educate others about the magnificent marine mammals we share our planet with.

whale and dolphin species drawings © Massimo Demma / ICRAM / Muzzio