Bottlenose dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Family Delphinidae - mammal, marine

Body round, elongate, hairless; color dark gray on back, lighter gray on sides, and whitish to pinkish on the belly; no spots, streaks or mottling; 1 dorsal fin, high, falcate (sickle-shaped), about midbody; snout (beak) short, no longer than about 3 in., stout, delineated from head by distinct crease, teeth in both jaws; single nostril (blowhole) on top of head; front limbs modified into flattened fins (called flippers or pectoral fins); no hind limbs; tail flattened dorsoventrally (called flukes) with median notch.
Similar Species
Bottlenose dolphins are the most common dolphin in the bays and offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, next to the spotted dolphin which lives mostly offshore. Other dolphins have longer snouts and are usually mottled, spotted or striped. Most are known in Texas only from strandings on beaches. Porpoises differ from dolphins by having very short or no beaks and very low dorsal fins. NO porpoises have been observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Most whales differ from dolphins by having no distinct beaks. Beaked whales do not have a crease that delineates the beak from the head.
Gulf and bay, open waters
Maximum Size
3.5 m (11.5 ft)
Other Common Names
Previous Scientific Names
Bottlenose dolphins travel in groups, known as pods, numbering anywhere from 2 to several hundred individuals. As do other cetaceans, they use distinct sounds to aid in mating rituals, communication and echolocation. Federal law makes it illegal to kill, hunt, injure or harass any marine mammal.




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