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Overview

Brief Summary

The bottlenose dolphin is the most popular dolphin species, thanks to film hero Flipper. They often jump out of the water and are very playful. They usually hunt schools of fish as a group. After detecting the fish with their sonar, they surround the school and chase them into their mouths. Because bottlenose dolphins are easy to train, you often see them at Sea Worlds.
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Description

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.

Adaptation: Imagine the structural and functional changes involved in transforming the right forelimb of a general mammalian type, such this Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, into that of a cetaceans flipper, such as we find in the Bottle-nosed dolphin, Tursiops truncatus.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
  • Original description: Montagu 1821.  Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society, 3:75, pl. 3.
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Biology

This active species engages in much energetic behaviour, including breaching (clearing the water), lobtailing (slapping the tail flukes down onto the surface of the water) and bow-riding (riding the swell created in front of boats and even large whales) (8). It has also been observed 'playing games' with seaweed and other objects (8). Dolphins are highly intelligent animals; they have a sophisticated echolocation system and communicate via a range of sounds (9). Although lone individuals occur, this is typically a very sociable animal, living in groups numbering between 10 and 100 individuals; even larger groups may form offshore (10). This species has a broad diet, with a wide variety of fish and invertebrates including cephalopods being taken (2). It varies its hunting methods greatly, and cooperative hunting has been observed in many areas (2). In Brazil, this species even hunts cooperatively with humans, driving fish into the nets of local fishers. In return, the dolphin takes its share of the fish (2). Females produce a single calf in the summer after a gestation period of 12 months. The calf suckles for up to 18 months and stays close to the mother until it reaches four or five years of age (7).
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Description

The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well-known species of dolphin (2). There appear to be two main varieties; a smaller, inshore form and a larger, more robust form that lives mainly offshore (6). This stocky species has a torpedo-shaped body, a short beak and pointed flippers (2). They are usually dark grey on the back with paler grey flanks and a white or pinkish belly (7). The sickle-shaped dorsal fin is tall, and positioned centrally on the back; variations in the shape of the dorsal fin along with scars and other markings on the skin can help researchers to identify individuals (8).
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MammalMAP: Bottlenose dolphin

These highly intelligent animals are grey in colour, typically 2 – 4 metres long and weigh between 300 – 500 kgs. These dolphins have short, well developed snout that resembles an old fashioned gin bottle – the source of its common name. This snout houses 18 – 28 conical teeth on each side of the jaw allow the dolphin to grasp its prey while its tongue manoeuvres the prey item down its throat.

The diet of bottlenose dolphins is broad and varies according to region. However, their diet primarily consists of fish, crustaceans and squid. Dolphins are team players and live in social groups called pods. Once a shoal of fish is found, typically by echolocation (a type of sonar), dolphins work together to herd the fish together and maximise the number of prey from the hunt.

Another feeding strategy is ‘strand feeding’ where dolphins chase their prey to shore and knowingly strand themselves to feed. Bottlenose dolphins are the poster children of interspecies cooperation. Fishermen and dolphins work together in the town of Laguna, Brazil. A pod of bottlenose dolphins would drive fish toward fishermen standing in shallow waters. One dolphin rolls over and the fishermen throw out their nets. The dolphins feed on the escaping fish. These dolphins were not trained to do this and this collaboration began before 1847. This behaviour has been noted in other places around the globe.

Coastal and island-centred populations are especially vulnerable to hunting, incidental catch, and habitat degradation (Source IUCN). Worldwide reports indicate that dolphins are caught for bait, human consumption, or to remove competition in the fishing industry. Drive fisheries have been reported for the Faroe Islands and Japan. The average catch rate in Japan was 594 dolphins per annum from 1995–2004.

Dolphins have captured the minds and hearts of people for centuries due to their altruistic behaviour. How often do we hear tales of dolphins saving surfers from sharks? It’s practically cliché at this point. They are also known to help other animals who find themselves in troubleMilitaries have trained these dolphins for wartime tasks such as mine detection and locating enemy divers. And researchers are still developing new tests in attempts to determine the intelligence of the dolphins.

All in all, it seems that we are still fascinated with these dolphins. And based on interactions between our two species (both historic and current), the feeling is mutual.

For more information on MammalMAP, visit the MammalMAP virtual museum or blog.

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Comprehensive Description

Description

 Tursiops truncatus is a large dolphin up to 4 m long, with a dark to light grey back that fades to pinkish white on its underside, and a dark stripe from the base of the beak to the eye. It has a pronounced snout and the lower jaw protrudes in front of the upper. The dorsal fin is tall and backward-curving from the middle of the back. There are between 18 - 26 pairs of large teeth in each jaw. Dolphins regularly surface to breathe, the maximum time spent under water being about 7 minutes.There is considerable variation in size and colour between populations of Tursiops truncatus worldwide. The European bottle-nosed dolphin tends to be larger and browner than those in the west Altlantic. Group size is commonly less than 20, but groups of over 1000 have been recorded offshore. For information on how to report dolphin sightings see 'Sealife Signpost'

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Worldwide distribution primarily in coastal and inshore areas of tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions; most common near shore, but occurs also pelagically in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and some other areas; generally not poleward of 45 degrees latitude except off northwestern Europe (Jefferson et al. 1993).

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East Pacific; Eastern Atlantic Ocean; Indo-West Pacific; Western Atlantic Ocean
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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circum-global, mostly between 45°N and 45°S
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Range Description

Common Bottlenose Dolphins are distributed worldwide through tropical and temperate inshore, coastal, shelf, and oceanic waters (Leatherwood and Reeves 1990, Wells and Scott 1999, Reynolds et al. 2000). Bottlenose Dolphins generally do not range pole-ward of 45°except in northern Europe (as far as the Faroe Islands 62°N 7°W - Bloch and Mikkelsen 2000) and to southern New Zealand. The species is rare in the Baltic Sea (it may best be considered extralimital there) and is vagrant to Newfoundland and Norway (Wells and Scott 1999).

The map shows where the species may occur based on oceanography. The species has not been recorded for all the states within the hypothetical range as shown on the map. States for which confirmed records of the species exist are included in the list of native range states. States within the hypothetical range but for which no confirmed records exist are included in the Presence Uncertain list.
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Distribution in Egypt

Red and Mediterranean Sea.

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Geographic Range

Tursiops truncatus typically occupies waters with surface temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although some bottlenosed dolphins migrate seasonally (for example, populations along the Atlantic coast), they are typically found in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters.

Biogeographic Regions: indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native ); mediterranean sea (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

  • Klinowska, M. 1991. Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
  • Reynolds, III, J., R. Wells, S. Eide. 2000. The Bottlenosed Dolphin. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
  • Reynolds, III, J., R. Wells. 2003. Dolphins, Whales, and Manatees. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.
  • Jefferson, T., M. Webber, R. Pitman. 2008. Marine Mammals of the World. Burlington, MA: Academic Press.
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Range

The bottlenose dolphin is found in coastal waters of most temperate, tropical and subtropical areas (9). Around the UK, it occurs in the English Channel, around north-east Scotland and in the Irish Sea, particularly in Cardigan Bay and off south-east Ireland (5). It is also found off western Ireland (5), but is rare further north than the UK (6).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Bottlenosed dolphins have a fusiform body that lacks many external characteristics of terrestrial mammals, including hair, external ears and hind limbs. A fusiform body reduces turbulence and allows bottlenosed dolphins to cruise underwater at high speeds. Dolphins have front flippers, a dorsal fin and flukes, which are used in swimming. The dorsal fin is tall, curved and set near the middle of the back. These dolphins are typically black to a light gray on their sides, and their bellies are white, sometimes with a slight pink hue. Bottlenosed dolphins are typically 84 to 140 cm at birth, and typically weigh between 14 and 20 kg. Adult males are usually between 244 and 381 cm long, and weigh about 500 kg. Adult females are typically between 228 and 366 cm, and weigh about 250 kg. This sexual dimorphism may be a result of females using energy to achieve sexual maturity at a earlier age than males, while males continue to grow.

As is true of all modern cetaceans, the skulls of bottlenosed dolphins are telescoped; that is, the rostra are elongated and tapered anteriorly and the nostrils are moved dorsally. This allows dolphins to breathe more easily during swimming. Bottlenosed dolphins are homeotherms and endotherms. They use insulation, in the form of blubber, a relatively small surface area due to their large body sizes, and vascular shunts that allow selective cooling of certain organs and tissues to help thermoregulate. Bottlenosed dolphins have a thermoneutral zone of 13 to 28 degrees Celsius. If the temperature of their environment drops below 13 degrees Celsius or rises above 28 degrees Celsius, their metabolic rate increases.

Range mass: 260 to 500 kg.

Average mass: 400 kg.

Range length: 228 to 381 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

  • Reeves, R., B. Stewart, P. Clapham, J. Powell. 2002. Sea Animals of the World. New York: A & C Black Publishers.
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Size

Size in North America

Length:
Range: 2.6-3.4 m

Weight:
Range: 200 kg
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Type Information

Syntype for Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)
Catalog Number: USNM A16504
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skull; Skeleton
Collector(s): U.S.F.C "Fish Hawk"
Year Collected: 1881
Locality: Cherrystone Point, Northampton, Virginia, United States, Chesapeake Bay, North America, North Atlantic Ocean
  • Syntype: True, F. W. 1884. Great International Fisheries Exhibition, London, 1883. Catalogue Of The Aquatic Animals Exhibited By The United States National Museum. 16.
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Syntype for Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)
Catalog Number: USNM A16505
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Female;
Preparation: Skull; Skeleton; Cast
Collector(s): U.S.F.C. "Fish Hawk"
Year Collected: 1881
Locality: Cherrystone Point, Northampton, Virginia, United States, Chesapeake Bay, North America, North Atlantic Ocean
  • Syntype: True, F. W. 1884. Great International Fisheries Exhibition, London, 1883. Catalogue Of The Aquatic Animals Exhibited By The United States National Museum. 16.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Marine

Comments: Offshore form frequents pelagic waters, especially in tropics. Coastal form usually shoreward of 20 m contour, often in lagoons, bays, river mouths; ascends river in some areas; common near passes connecting large bays with ocean. Young are born in the water.

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inshore and offshore
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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tropical to temperate, coastal
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Common Bottlenose Dolphins tend to be primarily coastal, but they can also be found in pelagic waters (Wells and Scott 1999). Where distinct ecotypes are known, the inshore form frequents estuaries, bays, lagoons and other shallow coastal regions, occasionally ranging far up into rivers. The offshore form is apparently less restricted in range and movement. Some offshore dolphins are residents around oceanic islands. In many inshore areas Bottlenose Dolphins maintain definable, long-term multi-generational home ranges, but in some locations near the extremes of the species range they are migratory. Off the coasts of North America, they tend to inhabit waters with surface temperatures ranging from about 10°C to 32°C (Wells and Scott, 1999). Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphins are common over the continental shelf; they sometimes occur far offshore (Birkun 2006).

Bottlenose Dolphins are commonly associated with many other cetaceans, including both large whales and other dolphin species (Wells and Scott 1999). Mixed schools with Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins have been found, for instance off China and Taiwan (J. Wang pers. comm.).

Bottlenose Dolphins consume a wide variety of prey species, mostly fish and squid (Barros and Odell 1990, Barros and Wells 1998, Blanco et al. 2001, Santos et al. 2001). They sometimes eat shrimps and other crustaceans.

Systems
  • Marine
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Bottlenosed dolphins are found everywhere except polar waters. Deep water bottlenosed dolphins come up to take breaths every 1 to 2 minutes, whereas inshore bottlenosed dolphins take breaths two times per minute. Bottlenosed dolphins have been known, however, to dive deep enough to go 4.5 minutes without taking a breath. Bottlenosed dolphins are found in bays, estuaries, sounds, open shorelines and large, estuarine rivers.

Average depth: 1 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: pelagic ; coastal ; brackish water

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

  • Ridgway, S., S. Harrison. 1999. Handbook of Marine Mammals. London: Academic Press.
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Depth range based on 18684 specimens in 2 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 7761 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 1.736 - 29.485
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.000 - 23.025
  Salinity (PPS): 30.701 - 40.333
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.253 - 7.718
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.048 - 1.582
  Silicate (umol/l): 0.399 - 14.997

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 1.736 - 29.485

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.000 - 23.025

Salinity (PPS): 30.701 - 40.333

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.253 - 7.718

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.048 - 1.582

Silicate (umol/l): 0.399 - 14.997
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 Tursiops truncatus is commonly found in coastal waters and along main shipping routes. The population density appears to be higher inshore and dolphins may be found from deep coastal waters into the shallow water off river entrances, but not in fresh water.
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A coastal and oceanic species, the bottlenose dolphin occurs in a range of habitats from open water and lagoons to rocky reefs (10). It also occurs in large estuaries and even the lower reaches of rivers and harbours (6).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Makes regular movements between inshore and offshore areas, and for distances up to 100 km linearly along coast. Much larger movements may occur (Wells et al. 1999), but whether these constitute migrations is uncertain.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Very opportunistic feeder; prefers fishes (e.g., mullet), squid, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Sometimes drives fish ashore and comes out of the water in pursuit. Foraging by plunging the head into sandy bottoms has been observed in the Bahamas (Rossbach and Herzing 1997).

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Food Habits

The diet of bottlenosed dolphins is broad and varies from one place to another. Inshore bottlenosed dolphins typically feed on fish and invertebrates found near the shoreline, while deep water bottlenosed dolphins typically feed on squid and pelagic fish. Bottlenosed dolphins found along the U.S. Atlantic coast typically feed on Atlantic croakers (Micropogonias undulatus), ‘spot’ fish (Leistomomus xanthurus), and silver perch (Bairdiella chrysoura), while dolphins in South Africa typically feed on African massbankers (Trachurus delagoae), olive grunters (Pomadasys olivaceus), and pandora (Pagellus bellotti). Bottlenosed dolphins typically choose prey between 5 and 30 cm in length. They eat between 4.5 and 16 kg per day, depending on the size of the individual and if it is lactating. Most of the time, bottlenosed dolphins feed individually. At times, however, dolphins participate in cooperative feeding with other dolphins, especially when feeding on a school of prey. They have also been known to trap their prey on the shore, stranding themselves in order to feed on stranded prey ("strand feeding"). And in some cases dolphins use echolocation calls to stun their prey. Some bottlenosed dolphins use passive listening rather than echolocation to locate prey. When prey is detected, these dolphins either rush in or alert others of the prey’s presence.

The sharp teeth of these dolphins allow them to grasp prey while the tongue maneuvers prey down the throat. Dolphins teeth are not used to chew and prey is typically swallowed whole. They may break up their prey by shaking it in the air and striking it with their tails, called fish-whacking. Bottlenosed dolphins in Australia may mount a sponge on their rostrum to protect their snouts as they forage on the bottom. They have also been known to follow the boats of fisherman and catch discarded prey or bait.

Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Bottlenosed dolphins feed on small fish and squid. They are hosts for a few species of parasites including the fluke Braunina cordiformis, tapeworms such as Monorygma delphini, roundworms (Anisakis marina), and thorny-headed worms (Corynosoma cetaceum). It has been said that healthy bottlenosed dolphin populations indicate a healthy marine ecosystem.

Ecosystem Impact: keystone species

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

The most common predators of bottlenosed dolphins are larger sharks, such as bull (Carcharhinus leucas), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), and dusky sharks (Carcharhinus altimus). These sharks prey on smaller dolphins, calves and female dolphins more than larger dolphins. It is not uncommon to observe dolphins with shark bites, demonstrating their survival of an attack. Blubber may provide some protection against predators. Many shark populations have decreased up to 80 percent since 1970, so some populations of dolphins may be experiencing lower predation by sharks. More recently, stingrays have been recognized as causing deaths in bottlenosed dolphin populations.

Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

Tursiops truncatus (porpoise shark) preys on:
Penaeidae
Mugilidae
Actinopterygii
Rajiformes
Archosargus probatocephalus

Based on studies in:
USA: Florida (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • W. M. Kemp, W. H. B. Smith, H. N. McKellar, M. E. Lehman, M. Homer, D. L. Young and H. T. Odum, Energy cost-benefit analysis applied to power plants near Crystal River, Florida. In: Ecosystem Modeling in Theory and Practice: An Introduction with Case His
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Population Biology

Global Abundance

10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Population in the southeastern Pacific Ocean was estimated to be 588,000 in 1978. NMFS estimated in 1989 that the population off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. was 14,000-23,000 (see Nowak 1991).

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General Ecology

Group size usually less than 10 (coastal form) or 25 (offshore form), though herds of several hundred sometimes are reported offshore. Individuals may segregate by age and sex.

Coastal form apparently has limited home range along segment of coast; for example, resident dolphins in a South Carolina estuary had home ranges over four years that averaged 51.3 square kilometers (95% adaptive kernel method; Gubbins 2002). However, in the Southern California Bight, dolphins are highly mobile within a relatively narrow coastal zone, extending from at least Santa Barbara to Ensenada, Mexico (Defran et al. 1999). Offshore form apparently is less restricted in movements and may move long distances over deep water (e.g., see Wells et al. 1999).

In Florida, mean mortality rate was 19% in first year, up to 3.8% annually thereafter (see IUCN 1991).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

fish, cephalopods, invertebrates
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Communication and Perception

Bottlenosed dolphins use sound to communicate with other members of their groups. They use both audible sounds and high frequency echolocation. Each dolphin is believed to possess its own signature whistle and, once it is developed, it is retained for the duration of the dolphin’s life. Kin recognize one another by their whistles and these sounds help maintain group cohesion. Signature whistles develop in calves as young as one month, allowing them to maintain contact with their mother. Surprisingly, the signature whistle of a male calf tends to resemble its mother's more than that of a female calf. The signature whistle also gives the location and emotional state of each dolphin. Bottlenosed dolphins also navigate with echolocation, used to detect bottom topography, prey, and the presence of predators. It is even sometimes used to stun prey. Echolocation calls pass through the melon and intramandibular fat body, which contain acoustic lipids; these structures serve as acoustic lenses to focus sound. The intramandibular fat bodies focus sound to each ear, while the melon is used as a lens to focus outgoing sound.

Bottlenosed dolphins also use vision to perceive their surroundings. Like those of humans, their eyes contain rods and cones, but they are not used in the same way as humans. Cones, for example, are used to provide good acuity when light levels are high. These and other adaptations allow dolphins to use their vision at different times of the day and at different depths.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: vibrations

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic ; echolocation ; vibrations

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active day and night.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Bottlenosed dolphins are threatened by a variety of factors, both natural and of human origin. Natural mortality is due to injury, disease, and predation. Male bottlenosed dolphins typically live about 40 to 45 years and female dolphins can live over 50 years (the oldest female documented lived to be 53 years old). Because in many cases dolphins are found in shallow waters, they encounter many humans and human activities. Recreational fishing gear causes many deaths when dolphins become entangled in nets or swallow fishing hooks. Dolphins are sometimes preyed upon by sharks, although this is may be less of a problem now than in the past due to declining shark populations. One of the largest and most serious threats to bottlenosed dolphins is environmental contamination, caused mainly by the increase of human development along shorelines. Chemicals of human origin find their way into coastal ecosystems through runoff from agriculture, residential, and industrial sources.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
53 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
45 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
25.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
30.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
25.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
35.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
25.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 51.6 years (captivity) Observations: Estimates suggest that males may live up to 39 years in the wild and females up to 49 years (Ronald Nowak 1999). One captive female was still alive at 51.6 years of age (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Gestation lasts about 12 months. Produces one young every 2-6 years. Young are closely tended by adults for 1st several months, weaned in 12-18 months or more. Males are sexually mature in 8-12 years, females in 5-12 years; average age of sexual maturity is around 11-12 years; a few live up to at least 40 (males) to 50 (females) years (Leatherwood and Reeves 1983, IUCN 1991).

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Bottlenosed dolphins are polygamous. They engage in mating behavior in either of two ways, in alliances or individually. Males that form alliances look for females that are in estrous. When males find a female in estrous they separate her from her home range for a chance to mate with her. Sometimes they flank the female to prevent access by other males to insure that only they have the opportunity to mate with her. Waiting for a female to become receptive can take several weeks. Some males do not engage in alliances, instead remaining in their home ranges. When an estrous female enters the home range of such a male, he attempts to attract her to mate. During courtship, a male postures by arching his back. He strokes and nuzzles the female, and he may clap his jaws or yelp. Bottlenosed dolphin copulation typically occurs belly-to-belly with both animals facing the same direction, although an animal facing the opposite direction is not uncommon. Intromission lasts only around 10 seconds and involves vigorous pelvis thrusts.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous) ; cooperative breeder

Female dolphins typically reach sexual maturity between 5 and 10 years of age, while males reach sexual maturity between 8 and 13 years old. Sexual maturity is usually achieved years before reproduction; males that reach sexual maturity at age 10 don’t typically breed until they are at approximately 20 years old. Reproductive seasons vary from region to region. Typically, females ovulate at a particular time of year while males are active throughout the year (but with a peak of testosterone production when females ovulate). Gestation lasts about 12 months and each pregnancy produces one calf. Females nurse their young from nipples on each side of their genital slit until the calf is between 18 and 20 months. Bottlenosed dolphins reproduce every 3 to 6 years, with females usually becoming pregnant soon after their calf is weaned. Calves can be born at any time of the year but with a peak in birthing during warmer months. Females can reproduce well into their late forties.

Breeding interval: Female bottlenosed dolphins breed once every 3 to 6 years.

Breeding season: Breeding may occur throughout the year but is often concentrated in the warmer months.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Average gestation period: 12 months.

Range birth mass: 14 to 20 kg.

Range weaning age: 18 to 20 months.

Average time to independence: 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 5 to 10 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 to 13 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Average gestation period: 365 days.

Average number of offspring: 1.

Females provide the bulk of parental investment, investing especially heavily during lactation. Lactation in bottlenosed dolphins typically lasts 18 to 20 months. Lactating females require 88 to 153 cal/kg as opposed to non-lactating females that typically require 34 to 67 cal/kg. Bottlenosed dolphins participate in allomaternal care, that is, all of the females within a group help care for each others' offspring. When a bottlenosed dolphin calf is born, it learns to ride the pressure waves alongside its mother during its first few days. The mother assists the calf to keep it alongside her body.  Females also protect calves from predators.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents

  • Reynolds, III, J., R. Wells, S. Eide. 2000. The Bottlenosed Dolphin. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
  • Reynolds, III, J., R. Wells. 2003. Dolphins, Whales, and Manatees. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.
  • Jefferson, T., M. Webber, R. Pitman. 2008. Marine Mammals of the World. Burlington, MA: Academic Press.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Body shape reduces friction: dolphin
 

The body of the dolphin has low friction in water by having an optimal length to diameter ratio.

       
  "The streamlined body of optimal shape has a length of 4.5 times its diameter. In this case the surface is smallest relative to the volume. This optimal numerical proportion has not remained a secret from nature: for dolphins (Tursiops gilli) the ratio is close to 5." The author goes on to talk about the Reynolds number and how the shape of the dolphin shows high efficiency: "As a matter of fact, the maximal diameter of the dolphin is slightly back of center. Obviously, the above-mentioned effect was taken into consideration. Experiments have confirmed that this particular shape lowers friction drag in turbulent boundary layers to 65%." (Tributsch 1984: 48)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Tributsch, H. 1984. How life learned to live. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 218 p.
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Functional adaptation

Blubber absorbs heat: bottlenose dolphin
 

The blubber of the bottlenose dolphin absorbs heat by acting as a phase change material

       
 

"There is substantial evidence to support the classification of the integument, and specifically the blubber layer [of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin], as a phase change material. First, many of the fatty acids found in blubber are classified as phase change materials and have melting points in the range of mammalian body temperatures (Sari, 2003; Sari and Kaygusuz, 2001; Sari et al., 2003; Suppes et al., 2003). Suppes et al. (2003) classified palmitic (C16:0), steric (18:0), oleic (C18:1), linoleic (C18:2), linolenic (C18:3) and arachidic (C20:0) fatty acids as excellent phase change materials. All of these fatty acids have been identified in cetacean blubber (Koopman et al., 1996). Mixtures of these fatty acids yield phase change materials with melting points between 29° and 38°C (Suppes et al., 2003), which include the range of mammalian body temperatures. Second, these fatty acids also satisfy the requirement that the material has a relatively large latent heat plateau, with latent heat values generally greater than 180·J·g–1 (Suppes et al., 2003). Third, their stratification in blubber may be prevented by their containment in adipocytes as well as the highly structured nature of adipocytes in the blubber tissue. Finally, cetaceans are known to have fine vascular control to their appendages and to the periphery of their body (Elsner et al., 1974; Kvadsheim and Folkow, 1997; Ling, 1974; Meagher et al., 2002; Pabst et al., 1999b; Scholander and Schevill, 1955). Intermittent heat loads could be applied to the blubber through shunting of warm blood to the blubber layer, followed by periods of vasoconstriction. Future studies are needed to fully characterize blubber’s potential phase change properties as well as investigate the possible functions that may be associated with such a property." (Dunkin et al., 2005: 1479)


  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Dunkin RC; McLellan WA; Blum JE; Pabst DA. 2005. The ontogenetic changes in the thermal properties of blubber from Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncates. Journal of Experimental Biology. 208(8): 1469-1480.
  • Nikoli R; Marinovic-Cincovic M; Gadzuric S; Zsigrai IJ. 2003. New materials for solar thermal storage—solid/ liquid transitions in fatty acid esters. Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells. 79: 285-292.
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Functional adaptation

Sound waves stun prey: bottlenose dolphin
 

The members of bottlenose dolphin pods stun prey by emitting low-frequency sound waves.

   
  "More recent, but equally intriguing, is the discovery that dolphins may use not only very high- but also very low-frequency sound to stun their prey. In 2000, Dr. Vincent Janik of St. Andrews University in Scotland was studying bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Scotland's Moray Firth. He announced that they give voice to a distinctive low-frequency braying noise almost exclusively at feeding times. Since dolphins themselves are not sensitive to low sonic frequencies, Janik speculates that the dolphins emit these particular sound waves to stun their prey." (Shuker 2001:23)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Tursiops truncatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGACTATTCTCTACCAATCACAAAGACATTGGTACCCTGTATTTACTATTTGGCGCCTGGGCAGGAATAGTAGGTACCGGTCTA---AGTTTGTTGATTCGTGCTGAATTAGGTCAACCTGGCACACTTATCGGAGAC---GACCAGCTTTATAATGTTCTAGTGACAGCTCATGCCTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTTATACCTATTATAATTGGAGGTTTTGGGAACTGATTAGTCCCCTTAATA---ATTGGAGCTCCTGACATAGCATTCCCCCGTCTAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCCCCTTCCTTTCTACTACTAATAGCATCTTCAATAATTGAGGCCGGCGCAGGTACAGGCTGAACTGTTTACCCTCCTCTAGCCGGAAATCTGGCACATGCAGGAGCCTCAGTAGACCTT---ACCATTTTCTCTCTACATTTAGCCGGTGTATCTTCAATCCTTGGAGCTATTAACTTCATCACAACTATTATCAATATAAAACCACCCGCTATAACTCAATACCAAACACCCCTCTTCGTCTGATCAGTCTTAGTCACAGCAGTCTTACTTTTACTATCATTACCTGTTCTAGCAGCC---GGAATTACTATACTACTAACCGATCGAAACCTAAACACAACCTTTTTCGACCCGGCAGGAGGAGGTGACCCAATCTTATATCAACACTTATTCTGATTTTTTGGCCATCCTGAAGTATATATTTTAATTCTACCTGGCTTTGGAATAATTTCACACATCGTTACTTATTATTCAGGGAAAAAA---GAACCTTTTGGGTATATGGGAATAGTATGAGCTATGGTTTCTATTGGTTTCCTAGGTTTTATTGTATGAGCCCATCATATGTTCACAGTTGGAATAGACGTGGACACACGAGCATATTTTACATCAGCTACTATAATTATCGCAATTCCTACAGGAGTAAAAGTTTTCAGTTGACTA---GCGACACTTCACGGAGGA---AATATTAAATGATCTCCTGCCCTAATATGAGCTCTAGGCTTTATCTTCTTATTCACAGTAGGAGGTTTAACCGGTATCATCCTAGCTAATTCATCCCTAGATATTATCCTTCATGACACCTACTATGTGGTTGCTCATTTTCACTATGTG---CTTTCAATAGGAGCTGTCTTTGCCATCATAGGAGGCTTCGTTCACTGATTTCCACTATTTTCAGGATATACACTCAACCCAACATGAACAAAAATTCAATTCGTAATTATATTCGTAGGTGTAAATATAACATTCTTCCCACAACACTTCCTAGGCCTATCTGGAATACCTCGC---CGATATTCTGACTATCCAGATGCTTACACA---ACATGAAACACCATTTCATCAATAGGCTCATTTATCTCACTAACAGCAGTTATACTAATAATCTTTATTATCTGAGAAGCATTCGCATCCAAACGAGAAGTA---TTAGCGGTAGACCTCACTTCCACAAAC
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tursiops truncatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread and common in many areas worldwide.

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K.A., Karkzmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y. , Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B.

Reviewer/s
Rojas-Bracho, L. & Smith, B.

Contributor/s

Justification
Although there are many threats operating on local populations, the species is widespread and abundant, and none of these threats is believed to be resulting in a major global population decline.

History
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Data Deficient
  • 1994
    Insufficiently Known
    (Groombridge 1994)
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Bottlenosed dolphins in the United States are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. The goal of this Act is to allow marine species to obtain optimum sustainable population levels keeping in mind the carrying capacity of the habitat. Anyone who removes a marine animal (e.g., a dolphin) without proper procedure faces fines up to $20,000 or periods of incarceration up to one year. Bottlenosed dolphins are also protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Bill of 1998 in Australia. This bill is applied to waters up to 200 miles from the shores of Australia. It involves environmental impact assessments, conservation of biodiversity and endangered species as well as management of protected areas. Bottlenosed dolphins are found in most waters and so are protected by many different laws in a large number of countries.  Although there are laws that protect bottlenosed dolphins, humans need to become more aware of the way our daily lives affect the livelihood of dolphins. Much of the environmental contamination found in the habitats of bottlenose dolphins are caused by humans. Common pollutants found in the tissues of dolphin are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), used as dielectric fluids in coolants, lubricators and transformers, and pesticide DDTs (1,1-bis-(4-chlorophenyl)-2,2,2-trichloroethane). Eighty percent of the total amount of these toxins in a female dolphin may be transferred through breast milk to its calf, causing suppression of the immune system or in some cases death. It is one thing to make sure that we are not removing dolphins from their habitats but it is also important to make sure their habitats are not being destroyed by our negligence.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix i; no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status in Egypt

Unknown; probably breeding.

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Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3). Listed on Annex II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive. North and Baltic Sea populations, western Mediterranean and Black Sea populations are included in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), and Appendix II of the Bern Convention (4). All cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are listed on Annex A of EU Council Regulation 338/97; they are therefore treated by the EU as if they are included in CITES Appendix I, so that commercial trade is prohibited. In the UK all cetaceans are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985 (5).
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U.S. Stocks

There are currently eleven stocks of Tursiops truncatus in U.S. waters, five of which occur in the Gulf of Mexico. The Western North Atlantic Coastal stock is listed under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as "depleted" i.e., below its optimum sustainable population.

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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Local declines have occurred but overall relatively stable.

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Population

Population
Abundance has been estimated for several parts of the species' range. Summing available estimates, a minimum world-wide estimate is 600,000.

U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service surveys have estimated 52,000 Bottlenose Dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico (3,708 [CV=42%] in oceanic waters beyond the shelf edge (Mullin 2006), 25,320 [CV=26%] on the outer continental shelf, 17,602 in coastal waters, and 5,063 in estuaries, bays, and channels – Waring et al. 2008). There are approximately 126,000 off the eastern coast of North America (including 81,588 [CV=17%] in offshore waters and 32,533 (winter) to 43,951 (summer) in coastal waters – Waring et al. 2008). Pacific surveys found 243,500 (CV=29%) in the eastern tropical Pacific (Wade and Gerrodette 1993), 3,215 (CV= 59%) off Hawaii (Barlow 2006), 323 (CV=13%) in coastal California waters (Dudzik et al. 2006), and an average of about 2,000 (CV = 44%) in the offshore waters of California/Oregon/Washington (Barlow and Forney in press). Japanese surveys found 168,000 (CV=26%) in the Northwestern Pacific west of 180ºE, including 36,791 (CV=25%) in Japanese coastal waters (Miyashita 1993). In the eastern Sulu Sea, Dolar et al (2006) estimated 2,628. Approximately 900 Bottlenose Dolphins were found along 400 km of coastal waters off KwaZulu-Natal (however, many of these may have been T. aduncus - Reyes 1991; Wells and Scott 1999).

Total abundance in the Mediterranean is unknown but thought to be in the low 10,000s based on observed densities in areas that have been surveyed (Bearzi and Fortuna 2006). Surveys in the northwestern Mediterranean estimated 7,654 (CV=45%) present (Forcada et al. 2004). An estimated 584 (CV=28%) occur in the Alboran Sea (Cañadas and Hammond 2006). Mediterranean Bottlenose Dolphins exhibit population structure, based on toxicology and diet (Borrell et al. 2005) and genetics (Natoli et al. 2005).

The total population size in the Black Sea is unknown. However, there are recent abundance estimates for parts of the range suggesting that population size is at least several thousands (Birkun 2006).

Preliminary estimates from the late 1980s indicate about 1,000 dolphins occur around the Faroe Islands (Sigurjónsson et al. 1989, Sigurjónsson and Gunnlaugsson 1990, Bloch and Mikkelsen 2000). Estimates of inshore bottlenose dolphins along the European Atlantic coasts total at least 610 individuals (Liret et al. 1998, Wilson et al. 1999, Grellier and Wilson 2003, Evans et al. 2002, Ingram 2000, White and Webb 1995, Baines et al. 2002, Gaspar 2003). A wide-scale survey in 2005 of western European continental shelf waters including the western Baltic, North Sea and Atlantic margin as far as southern Spain estimated that there were 12,600 Bottlenose Dolphins in this area (CV=27%, P. Hammond pers. comm..). Minimum estimates exist for other small areas around the world: for example, 122 (95% CI = 114-140) off Belize (Kerr et al. 2005) and 66 in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand (Hase and Schneider 2001).

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Degree of Threat: C : Not very threatened throughout its range, communities often provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure over the short-term, or communities are self-protecting because they are unsuitable for other uses

Comments: Incurs low to moderate levels of direct exploitation and incidental take in fisheries (Leatherwood and Reeves 1983, Jefferson et al. 1993). See Duignan et al. (1996) for information on recurrent epizootics of morbillivirus infections in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

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Major Threats
Coastal and island-centred populations are especially vulnerable to hunting, incidental catch, and habitat degradation (Curry and Smith 1997). Acute conservation problems are known or suspected in at least: (a) the Mediterranean and Black seas (IWC 1992, Reeves and Notarbartolo di Sciara 2006); (b) Sri Lanka (Leatherwood and Reeves 1989); (c) Peru, Ecuador and Chile (Read et al. 1988; Van Waerebeek et al. 1990, 1997; Sanino et al. 2004; K. Van Waerebeek pers. comm.); (d) Taiwan (Hammond and Leatherwood 1984, Perrin 1989, Wang et al. 1999); and (e) Japan (Miyazaki 1983, Kasuya 1985, Reeves et al. 2003). Dolphin catches for bait, human consumption, or to remove competition with fisheries have been reported worldwide (Wells and Scott 1999, 2002). In Peru, coastal fisheries still take Tursiops and other cetaceans for human consumption and bait, using harpoons and gill nets (K. Van Waerebeek pers. comm.). It is taken opportunistically by harpoon in Sri Lanka (Ilangakoon 1997). In Taiwan, Common Bottlenose Dolphins comprise a major part of the small cetaceans taken by harpoon (J. Wang pers. comm.).

The only Mediterranean area with quantitative historical information is the northern Adriatic Sea, where Bottlenose Dolphins likely have declined by at least 50% over the past 50 years, largely as a consequence of historical killing in extermination campaigns to reduce competition for fish, followed by habitat degradation and overfishing. The extermination campaigns were conducted until the early 1960s (Bearzi et al. 2004, Bearzi and Fortuna 2006). For the north-western Mediterranean, the available information suggests similar trends (Bearzi and Fortuna 2006).

Drive fisheries have been reported from the Faroe Islands and Japan. Up to 308 are taken annually in the Faroe Islands drive fishery (dating back to 1803), often with Long-finned Pilot Whales (Reyes 1991; Bloch 1998). Drive and harpoon fisheries in Japan catch Bottlenose Dolphins for human consumption and to remove perceived competition with commercial fisheries (Wells and Scott 1999). Average catch from 1995–2004 was 594 per annum (Kasuya 2007).

The Black Sea subspecies has had extensive directed takes for commercial products (Kleinenberg 1956, Tomilin 1957, Buckland et al. 1992), including takes of at least 24,000–28,000 during 1946–1983 in the Black Sea off Turkey. However, the total number of dolphins killed was certainly much greater (probably by tens of thousands) as figures do not include, or only partially include, catch statistics from other Black Sea countries (Birkun 2006).

Live capture of Common Bottlenose Dolphins for public display, research, and military applications have occurred in several parts of the species' range. Worldwide estimates of removal are unavailable, but more than 1,500 were caught in United States, Mexican, and Bahamian waters through 1980 (Leatherwood and Reeves 1982, Fisher and Reeves 2005). Some live-capture removals continue in other countries including Cuba where at least 238 were captured in 1986–2004 (Van Waerebeek et al. 2006), the Solomon Islands, Japan, and China (Wells and Scott 1999, R.S. Wells pers. comm.). Live-capture removal of Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphins, including mortality during capture operations, is estimated at 1,000–2,000 since the early 1960s. Live-captures continue in the Russian Federation, with 10-20 animals taken annually from a small area in the Kerch Strait, Russia (Birkun 2002a, 2006). According to CITES statistics, at least 92 individuals were removed from the Black Sea region during 1990-1999 (Reeves et al. 2003), and Russia reportedly has exported at least 66 for travelling shows since 1997 (Fisher and Reeves 2005).

Incidental catches of Common Bottlenose Dolphins are known from throughout the species’ range, in gillnets, driftnets, purse seines, trawls, long-lines, and on hook-and-line gear used in commercial and recreational fisheries, but the level of mortality is often poorly documented (Wells and Scott 1999). Gillnet and purse-seine fisheries off Peru take an unknown number annually. An estimated 42 common Bottlenose Dolphins were taken and landed at Cerro Azul, a Peruvian port, in 1994; while an annual gillnet fisheries bycatch of 227 animals was estimated for the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador, also in 1994 (Van Waerebeek et al. 1997). The estimated annual incidental mortality in the eastern tropical Pacific fishery for tuna ranged up to almost 200, but the mortality has declined to less than 10 since 1998 (M. Scott pers. comm.). Incidental catches in Chinese fisheries reach several hundred per year (Yang et al. 1999). Coastal gillnets and shark drift gillnets in the mid-Atlantic region of the US take on average 66 annually (Waring et al. 2008). They are taken incidentally in gillnets in Sri Lanka (Ilangakoon 1997). Taiwanese coastal and distant water longline fisheries for tuna and sharks take bottlenose dolphins incidentally (for the latter, the origin of the animals is unknown), as do a variety of gillnets, including driftnets (Wang and Yang 2002; J. Wang pers. comm.).

Annual Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphin incidental mortality in bottom-set gillnets from 1946 through the 1980s is roughly estimated in the hundreds. The scale of this mortality almost certainly increased in the 1990s-2000s owing to the rapid expansion of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (Birkun 2006). According to Öztürk (1999) at least 200–300 Bottlenose Dolphins per year may be taken incidentally in Turkish fisheries in a variety of fishing nets, especially bottom-set gill nets.

Common Bottlenose Dolphins in coastal areas are exposed to a wide variety of threats in addition to direct and indirect takes. Threats that are cause for concern include: 1) the toxic effects of xenobiotic chemicals; 2) reduced prey availability caused by environmental degradation and overfishing (Pauly et al. 1998; Jackson et al. 2001); 3) direct and indirect disturbance and harassment (e.g. boat traffic and commercial dolphin watching and interactive programs); 4) marine construction and demolition and 5) other forms of habitat destruction and degradation (including anthropogenic noise). Although these and other threats are technically challenging to quantify by comparison with takes, their cumulative impact is likely to result in longitudinal population declines. Lack of historical data in many cases hampers understanding of long term trends, possibly resulting in shifting baselines. The contribution of anthropogenic factors to an increasing number of Unusual Mortality Events involving Bottlenose Dolphins remains to be determined (Spradlin et al. 2005).

Environmental contaminants likely impact health and reproductive success of the Common Bottlenose Dolphins in parts of its range. Lahvis et al. (1995) correlated concentrations of PCBs and DDT in the blood of inshore Bottlenose Dolphins with decline in immune system function. Males in some areas such as Florida accumulate levels of PCBs more than an order of magnitude greater than the threshold for adverse health effects identified by Kannan et al. (2000) (Wells et al. 2005). A risk assessment relative to PCB burdens suggested elevated probabilities of first-born mortality at several sites in the U.S. (Schwacke et al. 2002, Wells et al. 2005).

Bottlenose Dolphins sometimes forage around fish-farm cages or take fish from gillnets (e.g., Reeves et al. 2001; Read et al. 2003), commercial trawling gear, crab traps, or recreational fishing gear (Wells and Scott 1999). This can result in incidental mortality through entanglement and ingestion of fishing gear.
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The bottlenose dolphin faces a number of threats including human disturbance, entanglement in fishing nets, and hunting. Like all cetaceans it is vulnerable to chemical and noise pollution. The captivity industry that supplies the world aquarium trade is also a problem (8).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

The Bottlenose Dolphin has been afforded special protected status under Annex II of the European Union’s Habitats Directive. Commercial hunting of Black Sea cetaceans including Bottlenose Dolphins was banned in 1966 in the former USSR, Bulgaria and Romania, and in 1983 in Turkey.
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Conservation

The bottlenose dolphin is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species (5). It is protected in UK waters by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Orders 1985; it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or harass any cetacean species in UK waters (5). The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS), has been signed by seven European countries, this includes the UK. Provision is made under this agreement to set up protected areas, promote research and monitoring, pollution control and increase public awareness (5). Under Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, candidate marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACS) are being set up for this species in Cardigan Bay (Wales) and the Moray Firth (north-east Scotland) (5).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: Most commonly displayed cetacean in marine aquaria. Historically has been harvested for meat, leather, oil, and meal. Today the main directed fishery is in Japanese waters, producing meat for human consumption; limited direct take occurs in many other parts of the range (IUCN 1991). Blamed for damage to fisheries and fishing gear in many areas (see IUCN 1991 for examples), but claims of damage are not always adequately substantiated.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Tursiops truncatus on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Humans receive a considerable amount of economic gain from bottlenosed dolphins. They are often used in captivity to swim with humans and perform. Dolphins are used in tours in which participants are educated about the lives of dolphins and encouraged to preserve their livelihood and habitat. Bottlenosed dolphins have also been known to fish cooperatively with humans, letting Brazilian fishermen, for example, know when and where to drop their nets. Bottlenosed dolphins are even used for research by the U.S. Navy on echolocation and thermoregulation. These research dolphins have also helped navy divers to find submerged objects in the ocean. Research on bottlenosed dolphins has contributed substantially to our understanding of social communication and behavior and the nature of intelligence.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; research and education

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Risks

IUCN Red List Category

Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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Wikipedia

Common bottlenose dolphin

This article is about the species of dolphin. For the genus of dolphin, see Bottlenose dolphin.

Tursiops truncatus, commonly known as the common bottlenose dolphin or the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (and in older literature simply as the bottlenose dolphin, a term now applied to the genus), is the most well-known species from the family Delphinidae.

Common bottlenose dolphins are the most familiar dolphins due to the wide exposure they receive in captivity in marine parks and dolphinaria, and in movies and television programs.[3] T. truncatus is the largest species of the beaked dolphins.[4] They inhabit temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world, and are absent only from polar waters.[3][4][5][6][7] All bottlenose dolphins were previously known as T. truncatus, but recently the genus has been split into three species, T. truncatus, T. aduncus (Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin)[6][7] and T. australis (Burrunan dolphin). Although T. truncatus has been traditionally called the bottlenose dolphin,[8][9] many authors have used the name common bottlenose dolphin for this species since other two bottlenose dolphins were described.[1][10][11] The dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide. Considerable genetic variation has been described among members of this species, even between neighboring populations, and so many experts believe multiple species may be included within T. truncatus.[8][10]

Description[edit]

The common bottlenose dolphin is grey in color and may be between 2 and 4 m (6.6 and 13.1 ft) long, and weighs between 150 and 650 kg (330 and 1,430 lb).[9] Males are generally larger and heavier than females. In most parts of the world, the adult's length is between 2.5 and 3.5 m (8.2 and 11.5 ft) with weight ranging between 200 and 500 kg (440 and 1,100 lb).[4][10] Newborn calves are between 0.8 and 1.4 m (2 ft 7 in and 4 ft 7 in) long and weigh between 15 and 30 kg (33 and 66 lb).[10] The dolphins have a short and well-defined snout that looks like an old-fashioned gin bottle, which is the source for their common name.[12] Like all whales and dolphins, though, the snout is not a functional nose; the nose has instead evolved into the blowhole on the top of their heads. Their necks are more flexible than other dolphins' due to five of their seven vertebrae not being fused together as is seen in other dolphin species.[13]

Behavior[edit]

K-Dog, trained by the US Navy to find mines and boobytraps underwater, leaping out of the water

Common bottlenose dolphins live in groups called pods that typically number about 15 individuals, but group size varies from pairs of dolphins to over 100 or even occasionally over 1000 animals for short periods of time.[10] Their diets consist mainly of eels, squid, shrimp and wide variety of fishes.[1][5] They do not chew their food, instead swallowing it whole. Dolphin groups often work as a team to harvest schools of fish, though they also hunt individually. Dolphins search for prey primarily using echolocation, which is a form of sonar. They emit clicking sounds and listen for the return echoes to determine the location and shape of nearby items, including potential prey.[14] Dolphins also use sound for communication, including squeaks emitted from the blowhole, whistles emitted from nasal sacs below the blowhole, and sounds emitted through body language, such as leaping from the water and slapping their tails on the water. Their heads contain an oily substance that both acts as an acoustic lens and protects the brain case.

Distribution[edit]

T. truncatus can be found in the warm and temperate tropical oceans worldwide.[15] Some bottlenose populations live closer to the shore (inshore populations) and others live further out to sea (offshore populations). Generally, offshore populations are larger, darker, and have proportionally shorter fins and beaks. Offshore populations can migrate up to 4,200 km (2,600 mi) in a season, but inshore populations tend to move less. However, some inshore populations make long migrations in response to El Niño events.[10]

Intelligence[edit]

Main article: Cetacean intelligence

T. truncatus has a bigger brain than humans.[16] Numerous investigations of bottlenose dolphin intelligence include tests of mimicry, use of artificial language, object categorization, and self-recognition.[17][18][19][20][21][22] This intelligence has driven considerable interaction with humans. Common bottlenose dolphins are popular in aquarium shows and television programs such as Flipper.[23] They have also been trained for military uses such as locating sea mines or detecting and marking enemy divers, as for example in the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program.[24][25] In some areas they cooperate with local fishermen by driving fish toward the fishermen and eating the fish that escape the fishermen's nets.[26]

Other human interactions[edit]

Fetus at three months

Some interactions with humans are harmful to the dolphins. In the town of Taiji, Japan, up to 2,300 are hunted for food annually.[27] Also, the dolphins are sometimes killed inadvertently as a bycatch of tuna fishing.[28][29]

Conservation[edit]

The North Sea, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea populations of the common bottlenose dolphin are listed on Appendix II[30] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) of the Bonn Convention), since they have an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international cooperation organized by tailored agreements.[31]

The species is covered by the Agreement on Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region,[32] and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia.[33]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wells, R. and Scott, M. (2002). "Bottlenose Dolphins". In Perrin, W.; Wursig, B. and Thewissen, J. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 122–127. ISBN 0-12-551340-2. 
  2. ^ Hammond, P.S., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., Perrin, W.F., Scott, M.D., Wang, J.Y., Wells, R.S. & Wilson, B. (2008). Tursiops truncatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b Leatherwood, S., & Reeves, R. (1990). The Bottlenose Dolphin. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., ISBN 0-12-440280-1
  4. ^ a b c Jenkins, J. (2009) Tursiops truncatus. Animal Diversity Web.
  5. ^ a b Anonymous. (2002) Bottlenose Dolphin. Retrieved January 17, 2009, from Sea World Web: http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/Bottlenose/
  6. ^ a b Hammond, P., Bearzi, G., Bjørge, A., Forney, K., Karczmarski, L., Kasuya, T., et al. (2008). Tursiops truncatus. Retrieved January 17, 2009, from IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: http://www.iucnredlist.org
  7. ^ a b Klinowska, M. (1991). Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland, Switzerland, U.K.: IUCN, ISBN 2880329361
  8. ^ a b Mead, J. G.; Brownell, R. L., Jr. (2005). "Order Cetacea". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 723–743. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  9. ^ a b American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet – Bottlenose Dolphin
  10. ^ a b c d e f Shirihai, H. and Jarrett, B. (2006). Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. 155–158. ISBN 0-691-12757-3. 
  11. ^ Reeves, R.; Stewart, B.; Clapham, P.; Powell, J. (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. New York: A.A. Knopf. pp. 362–365. ISBN 0-375-41141-0. 
  12. ^ Tursiops truncatus, Bottlenose Dolphin. MarineBio.org.
  13. ^ Wells, R.S. (2006). American Cetacean Society Fact Sheet: Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).
  14. ^ Au, Whitlow (1993). The Sonar of Dolphins. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-97835-2. 
  15. ^ Scott, M., & Chivers, S. (1990). "Distribution and Herd Structure of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean", pp. 387–402 in S. Leatherwood, & R. Reeves, The Bottlenose Dolphin, San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., ISBN 0-12-440280-1
  16. ^ Marino, Lori; Connor, Richard C.; Fordyce, R. Ewan; Herman, Louis M.; Hof, Patrick R.; Lefebvre, Louis; Lusseau, David; McCowan, Brenda et al. (2007). "Cetaceans Have Complex Brains for Complex Cognition". PLoS Biology 5 (5): e139. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050139. PMC 1868071. PMID 17503965. 
  17. ^ Reiss, Diana; McCowan, Brenda (September 1993). "Spontaneous Vocal Mimicry and Production by Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Evidence for Vocal Learning". J Comp Psychol 107 (3): 301–12. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.107.3.301. PMID 8375147. 
  18. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Behavioral Mimicry". Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  19. ^ Herman, L. (2002). "Language Learning". In Perrin, W.; Wursig, B. and Thewissen, J. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 685–689. ISBN 0-12-551340-2. 
  20. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Understanding Language". Retrieved 2008-09-31. 
  21. ^ "Intelligence and Humans". wiu.edu. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  22. ^ Marten, K. & Psarakos, S. (2006). "Evidence of Self-awareness in the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)". In Parker, S. T., Mitchell, R. & Boccia, M. Self-awareness in Animals and Humans: Developmental Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. pp. 361–379. ISBN 0521025915. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  23. ^ "American Cetacean Society — Bottlenose Dolphin". Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  24. ^ "U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Web Site". U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. Retrieved 2000-01-18. 
  25. ^ "Dolphins Deployed as Undersea Agents in Iraq". National Geographic. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  26. ^ "Bottlenose Dolphin". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  27. ^ "Save Japan Dolphins". Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  28. ^ Kenyon, P. (2004-11-08). "Dining with the dolphin hunters". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  29. ^ "The Dolphin Institute — Threats to the Bottlenose Dolphin and Other Marine Mammals". Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  30. ^ "Appendix II" of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). As amended by the Conference of the Parties to the Bonn Convention in 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008. Effective: 5 March 2009.
  31. ^ Convention on Migratory Species page on the common bottlenose dolphin. Cms.int (2000-02-18). Retrieved on 2013-04-01.
  32. ^ Pacific Cetaceans MoU. Pacificcetaceans.org. Retrieved on 2013-04-01.
  33. ^ Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU. Cms.int (2008-10-03). Retrieved on 2013-04-01.

Further reading[edit]

  • Heptner, V. G.; Nasimovich, A. A; Bannikov, Andrei Grigorevich; Hoffmann, Robert S, Mammals of the Soviet Union, Volume II, part 3 (1996). Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation
  • Ryan, C., Rongan, E. and Cross, T. 2010. The use of Cork Harbour by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)) Ir Nat. J. 31: 1 – 9.
  • Berrow, S.D. 2009. Winter distribution of Bottle-nosed Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus (Montagu)) in the inner Shannon Estuary. Ir. Nat. J. 30: 35 – 39.


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Hiapo

Hiapo (c. November 13, 1983 – February 25, 2004) was a male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, who along with a companion female dolphin named Elele, as well as tankmates Phoenix and Akeakamai, were the subjects of Louis Herman's animal language studies at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. The most well known paper is the original work described in Herman, Richards, & Wolz (1984). Hiapo was also the subject of many other scientific studies of dolphin cognition and sensory abilities.

Physically identifying features of Hiapo included a five o'clock shadow on his throat, also sometimes described as the outline of a handsome dolphin tuxedo, a dorsal fin that drooped to the left, and a particularly large fluke and tail. In the Hawaiian language, Hiapo means first born son.

Contents

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Vorsino, Mary (February 26, 2004). "Last dolphin dies at marine laboratory". starbulletin.com. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. http://archives.starbulletin.com/2004/02/26/news/story3.html. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 

References

Media and Press Appearances

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Akeakamai

Akeakamai (c. 1976 – November 22, 2003) was a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, which, along with a companion female dolphin named Phoenix, as well as tankmates Elele and Hiapo, were the subjects of Louis Herman's animal language studies at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii. The most well-known paper is the original work described in Herman, Richards, & Wolz (1984). Akeakamai was also the subject of many other scientific studies of dolphin cognition and sensory abilities.

Physically identifying features of Akeakamai included a straight eyeline, a half-circle-shaped notch in the right side of her tail fluke, a small "Eiffel Tower"-shaped mark above her right eye, a thin notch in the side of her upper mouth, and a particularly wide melon. She also had characteristic in-air whistle calls, including an unusual high-low-high whistle that was well below typical signature whistle frequencies. In the Hawaiian language, Akeakamai means "philosophy", or "lover (ake) of wisdom (akamai)". Akeakamai was also inserted as a character in David Brin's science fiction novel Startide Rising.

Akeakamai died of cancer on November 2, 2003.[1]

Contents

See also

Notes

References

Media and Press Appearances

Scientific References

  • Cowan, R. (2003). Short-term memory for behavior in bottlenosed dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Hawaii, Honolulu.
  • Herman, L. M. (2002). Exploring the cognitive world of the bottlenosed dolphin. In M. Bekoff, C. Allen & G. Burghardt (Eds.) The cognitive animal: Empirical and theoretical perspectives on animal cognition. pp. 275–283. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Herman, L. M. (2002). Vocal, social, and self-imitation by bottlenosed dolphins. In C. Nehaniv & K. Dautenhahn (Eds.). Imitation in Animals and Artifacts. pp. 63–108. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press
  • Mercado, E. III, Killebrew, D.A., Pack, A.A., Macha, I.V.B., Herman, L.M. (2000). Generalization of 'same-different' classification abilities in bottlenosed dolphins. Behavioural Processes, 50, 79-94.
  • Herman, L.M., Abinchandani, S.L., Elhajj, A.E., Herman, E.Y.K., Sanchez, J.L., & Pack, A.A. (2000). Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) comprehend the referential character of the human pointing journal. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 113(4), 347-364.
  • Braslau-Schneck, S. (1994). Innovative Behaviors and Synchronization in Bottlenosed Dolphins. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu.
  • Herman, L.M., Pack, A.A. & Wood, A. M. (1994). Bottlenosed Dolphins Can Generalize Rules and Develop Abstract Concepts. Marine Mammal Science, 10, 70-80.
  • Herman, L.M., Kuczaj, S. A. II, & Holder, M. D. (1993). Responses to Anomalous Gestural Sequences by a Language-Trained Dolphin: Evidence for Processing of Semantic Relations and Syntactic Information. Journal of Experimental Psychology, General, 122, 184-194.
  • Herman, L. M., Pack A. A. & Morrel-Samuels, P. (1993). Representational and conceptual skills of dolphins. In H. R. Roitblat, L. M. Herman & P. Nachtigall (Eds) : Language and Communication: Comparative Perspectives, 273-298. Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Holder, M. D., Herman, L. M. & Kuczaj, S. III (1993). A bottlenosed dolphin's responses to anomalous gestural sequences expressed within an artificial gestural language. In H. R. Roitblat, L. M. Herman & P. Nachtigall (Eds): Language and Communication: Comparative Perspectives, 299-308. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Morrel-Samuels, P. & Herman, L. M. (1993). Cognitive factors affecting comprehension of gesture language signs: A brief comparison of dolphins and humans. In H. R. Roitblat, L. M. Herman & P. Nachtigall (Eds): Language and Communication: Comparative Perspectives, 211-222. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Prince, C. G. (1993). Conjunctive Rule Comprehension in a Bottlenosed Dolphin. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu.
  • Herman, L. M. (1990). Cognitive performance of dolphins in visually guided tasks. In J. A. Thomas and R. A. Kastelein (Eds.), Sensory abilities of cetaceans: Laboratory and field evidence, (pp. 455–462). New York: Plenum.
  • Herman, L. M., Morrel Samuels, P. (1990). Knowledge acquisition and asymmetries between language comprehension and production: Dolphins and apes as a general model for animals. In M. Bekoff & D. Jamieson (Eds.), Interpretation and explanation in the study of behavior: Vol 1: Interpretation, intentionality, and commumication, 283-312. Boulder: Westview Press.
  • Herman, L. M., Morrel-Samuels, P. and Pack, A. A. (1990). Bottlenosed dolphin and human recognition of veridical and degraded video displays of an artificial gestural language. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 119, 215-230.
  • Shyan, M. R. and Herman, L. M. (1987). Determinants of recognition of gestural signs in an artificial language by Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins (Tursiops turncatus) and humans (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 101, 112-125.
  • Herman, L. M. (1987). Receptive competences of language-trained animals. In J. S. Rosenblatt, C. Beer, M. C. Busnel, & P. J. B. Slater (Eds.), Advances in the Study of Behavior. Vol. 17, 1-60. Petaluma, CA: Academic Press.
  • Herman, L. M., Richards, D. G. & Wolz, J. P. (1984). Comprehension of sentences by bottlenosed dolphins. Cognition, 16, 129-219.
  • Herman, L. M. and Forestell, P. H. (1985). Reporting presence or absence of named objects by a language-trained dolphin. Neuroscience and Bioehavioral Reviews, 9, 667-691.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Certain populations (e.g., subspecies gillii) have been regarded as distinct species by some authors, but most authors regard Tursiops as comprising a single, geographically variable species (Jones et al. 1992; Mead and Brownell, in Wilson and Reeder 1993) or two species (worldwide T. truncatus and Indian Ocean T. aduncus) (Rice 1998; Mead and Brownell, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

LeDuc et al. (1999) used cytochrome b gene sequences to examine phylogenetic relationships among delphinids and found that Tursiops aduncus of the Indo-Pacific is distinct from Tursiops truncatus and moreover may be the sister species of Stenella frontalis; the genera Tursiops and Stenella as presently construed apear to be polyphyletic. Further taxonomic work is needed to resolve the relationships within the Delphininae before taxonomic revisions are made, other than recognizing T. aduncus as a distinct species.

Two forms are recognized, coastal and offshore. An offshore form exists between the 200- and 2000-m isobaths in distinct Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic stocks, whereas one or more coastal forms inhabit the waters inshore (Wells et al. 1999).

An opinion of the ICZN conserved the specific name truncatus and suppressed nesernack (see Mead and Brownell, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). See IUCN (1991) for further discussion of taxonomy.

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