There are almost forty species of dolphin. The bottlenose dolphin, one of the most well known, is usually around 2.5m long and weighs between 200 and 300kg. Its size varies according to habitat, but males are always considerably larger than females.
HOW ARE DOLPHINS CLASSIFIED?
Living things can be organised into different groups. Species that are alike are grouped together. This is called classification.
Species: Tursiops truncates (Common bottlenose)
Tursiops aduncus (Indo-Pacific bottlenose)
DOLPHINS ARE SPECIAL
Dolphins have sharp eyesight and a poor sense of smell. They use echolocation to explore their environment and search out prey when vision is limited. They are extremely intelligent animals.
Bottlenose dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide
Map showing distribution of Bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose dolphins can swim up to 300m below the surface of the ocean, they are capable of bursts of speed of up to 30 mph, and can cover huge distances each day.
Their diet consists mainly of fish, and sometimes squid and crustaceans. Dolphins will often work as a team to harvest schools of fish.
Dolphins’ streamlined bodies and powerful tails help them to swim through the water with great speed agility. They are able to remain submerged for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Bottlenose dolphins communicate through pulsed sounds, whistles, clicks and body language. Examples of body language include leaping out of the water, slapping the tail on the surface, snapping jaws, and head butting.
Bottlenose dolphins usually live in pods of around 10–30 members, but group sizes larger than 1,000 have also been recorded. Adult males live mostly alone or in groups of two to three, and join pods for short periods of time.
Females mature between 5 and 13 years old. After a gestation period of 12 months, the female gives birth in shallow water. The calf suckles for around 18 months but will stay close to its mother for several years.