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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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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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Untitled

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Fossil remains of several Tursiops species have been found in Pliocene (2 to 5 million years old) and Pleistocene (less than 2 million years old) deposits. It has been suggested that Tursiops originated in the Mediterranean region. The teeth of bottlenosed dolphins are flattened at the tips, which caused them to be placed in the genus Tursio, but because Tursio is a synonym of Physeter, the genus name was changed to Tursiops. Tursio in Latin means dolphin, and the suffix -ops means appearance, hence the name, Tursiops. Trunco is the Latin term for truncated, which makes reference to the flattened teeth of bottlenosed dolphins. There are three synonyms of Tursiops truncatus: Tursiops gephyreus, Tursiops gillii and Tursiops nuuanu. Tursiops has recently been separated into two species: Tursiops truncatus and Tursiops aduncus.

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Behavior

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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 ; tactile ; acoustic ; echolocation ; vibrations ; chemical

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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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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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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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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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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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:

  • flukes (Braunina cordiformis)
  • tapeworms (Monorygma delphini)
  • roundworms (Anisakis marina)
  • thorny-headed worms (Corynosoma cetaceum)
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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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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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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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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

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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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

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Life Expectancy

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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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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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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

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Associations

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The most common predators of bottlenosed dolphins are larger sharks, such as bull (Carcharhinus amboinensis), 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:

  • bull sharks (Carcharhinus amboinensis)
  • tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier)
  • dusky sharks (Carcharhinus altimus)
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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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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 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); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 19350 g.

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

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Jenkins, J. 2009. "Tursiops truncatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tursiops_truncatus.html
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Jessica Jenkins, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Biology

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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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Conservation

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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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Description

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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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Habitat

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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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Range

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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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Status

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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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Threats

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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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Distribution in Egypt

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Red and Mediterranean Sea.

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Status in Egypt

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Unknown; probably breeding.

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MammalMAP: Bottlenose dolphin

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Thesehighly intelligent animalsare 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 byecholocation(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 ofinterspecies 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 (SourceIUCN). 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. Theaverage 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 fromsharks? It’s practically cliché at this point. They are also known to help other animals who find themselves introuble.Militarieshave 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 MammalMAPvirtual museumorblog.

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U.S. Stocks

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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.

Diagnostic Description

provided by FAO species catalogs
The bottlenose dolphin is probably the most familiar of the small cetaceans because of its coastal habits, prevalence in captivity worldwide, and frequent appearance on television and in advertising. It is a large, relatively robust dolphin, with a short to moderate length stocky snout that is distinctly set off from the melon by a crease. The dorsal fin is tall and falcate, and set near the middle of the back.

Colour varies from light grey to nearly black on the back and sides, fading to white (sometimes with a pinkish hue) on the belly. The belly and lower sides are sometimes spotted. There is a dark stripe from eye to flipper, and a faint dorsal cape on the back (and sometimes an indistinct spinal blaze), generally only visible at close range. Often, there are brushings of grey on the body, especially on the face, and from the apex of the melon to the blowhole.

Bottlenose dolphins have 18 to 26 pairs of robust teeth in each jaw. In older animals, many of these may be worn down or missing.

In many areas of the world, such as South Africa, the Northwest Atlantic, Peru, and the eastern North Pacific, there appear to be 2 forms, a coastal type and an offshore type; however, the taxonomy of bottlenose dolphins is still somewhat confused, due to the great extent of geographical variation.Can be confused with: Bottlenose dolphins can be mistaken for several other species of dolphins, depending on the area. There can be confusion in the tropical Atlantic with Atlantic spotted dolphins, along the east coast of South America with dolphins of the genus Sotalia, and in the Indo-Pacific and off West Africa with hump-backed dolphins. When seen from a distance, they could also be confused with Risso's dolphin or rough-toothed dolphin. Such confusion will generally only occur when the animals are not seen well; in most situations, bottlenose dolphins are distinctive.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Size

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Adults range from 1.9 to 3.8 m, with males somewhat larger than females. There is incredible variation between different populations. Maximum weight is at least 650 kg, although most animals are much smaller. Length at birth is about 1 to 1.3 m.
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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Brief Summary

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More is known of the biology of this species than of any other dolphin. Group size is commonly less than 20, but large herds of several hundred are often seen offshore. Bottlenose dolphins are commonly associated with other cetaceans, and hybrids with other species are known from both captivity and in the wild. Based on a number of studies of nearshore populations, bottlenose dolphins seem to live in relatively open societies. In some areas, dolphins have limited home ranges; in others, they are migratory, generally ranging further. Mother and calf bonds and some other associations may be strong, but individuals may be seen from day-to-day with a variety of different associates. The bottlenose dolphin is the most common species of dolphin held in captivity. It has proven highly adaptable and is easily trained. Much of what we know of the general biology of dolphins comes from studies of bottlenose dolphins, both in captivity and in the wild. Bottlenose dolphins are sometimes active (especially when feeding or socializing), often slapping the water with their flukes, leaping, and performing other aerial behaviours. Spring and summer or spring and autumn calving peaks are known for most populations.

They are opportunistic feeders, apparently taking whatever suitable prey is most abundant at the time. Feeding behaviour is varied, ranging from cooperative foraging on schooling fish, to individually chasing fish onto mudbanks, to feeding behind shrimp trawlers and other fishing operations.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Benefits

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Both incidental and direct exploitation of bottlenose dolphins are known to occur, generally at low to moderate levels. The largest direct kills have traditionally been in the Black Sea, where Russian and Turkish hunters apparently have reduced local populations. Bottlenose dolphins also are taken elsewhere in gillnets, shark nets, shrimp trawls, and purse seines (the latter in the multi-national tuna purse seine fishery of the eastern tropical Pacific). They also are occasional victims of harpoon and drive fisheries. Live capture removals have had considerable effects on some populations, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. southeast coast. IUCN:

Insufficiently known.

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Marine mammals of the world. Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood & M.A. Webber - 1993. FAO species identification guide. Rome, FAO. 320 p. 587 figs. . 
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Common bottlenose dolphin

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The common bottlenose dolphin or Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the most well-known species of the family Delphinidae.

The common bottlenose dolphin is the most familiar dolphin species due to the wide exposure it receives in captivity in marine parks and dolphinaria, and in movies and television programs.[5] It is the largest species of the beaked dolphins.[6] It inhabits temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world, and is absent only from polar waters.[5][6][7][3][8] Until recently, all bottlenose dolphins were considered as a single species, but now the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin[3][8] and Burrunan dolphin have been split from the common bottlenose dolphin.[4][9] While formerly known simply as the bottlenose dolphin, this term is now applied to the genus Tursiops as a whole.[1][10][11] These dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide. As considerable genetic variation has been described among members of this species, even between neighboring populations, many experts consider that additional species may be recognized.[4][10]

Description

 src=
The skeleton

Common bottlenose dolphins are grey in color and may be between 2 and 4 m (6.6 and 13.1 ft) long, and weigh 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).[6][10] 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]

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The skull
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A close-up of the head

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]

Intelligence

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The brain of common bottlenose dolphin (middle) that compared size to those of human (right) and wild boar (left)

The common bottlenose dolphin has a bigger brain than humans.[14] Numerous investigations of bottlenose dolphin intelligence include tests of mimicry, use of artificial language, object categorization, and self-recognition.[15][16][17][18][19][20] This intelligence has driven considerable interaction with humans. The common bottlenose dolphin is popular in aquarium shows and television programs such as Flipper.[21] It has 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.[22][23] In some areas, they cooperate with local fishermen by driving fish toward the fishermen and eating the fish that escape the fishermen's nets.[24]

Ecology and behavior

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

As a very social species, the common bottlenose dolphin lives 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 1,000 animals for short periods of time.[10] The types of groups include: nursery groups, juvenile groups, and groups of adult males.[6]

Diet

Its diet consists mainly of eels, squid, shrimp and a wide variety of fishes.[1][7] It does not chew its food, instead swallowing it whole. Dolphin pods 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.

The diet of common bottlenose dolphin pods varies depending on area. Along the U.S. Atlantic coast, the main prey includes Atlantic croakers (Micropogonias undulatus), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus) and American silver perch (Bairdiella chrysoura), while in South Africa, African massbankers (Trachurus delagoa), olive grunters (Pomadasys olivaceus), and pandora (Pagellus bellottii) are common bottlenose dolphin's typical prey.[6]

According to combined stomach content and stable isotope analyses in the Gulf of Cádiz, although European conger (Conger conger) and European hake (Merluccius merluccius) are most important prey of common bottlenose dolphins, mass-balance isotopic mixing model (MixSIAR), using δ13C and δ15N showns that Sparidae species; seabreams (Diplodus annularis and D. bellottii), rubberlip grunt (Plectorhinchus mediterraneus), and common pandora, (Pagellus erythrinus)) and a mixture of other species including European hake, mackerels (Scomber colias, S. japonicus and S. scombrus), European conger, red bandfish (Cepola macrophthalma) and European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) are the assimilated diet.[25]

Research indicates that the type and range of fish in a dolphin's diet can have a significant impact on its health and metabolism.[26]

Communication

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. They emit clicking sounds and listen for the return echoes to determine the location and shape of nearby items, including potential prey.[27]

Reproduction

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The immersion specimen of "Biskit", a three months fetus displayed at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, South West (Western Australia)
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A female bottlenose dolphin with two young at side at the Inner Moray Firth, Scotland

Mating behavior of bottlenose dolphin is polygamous. Although they can breed throughout the year, it mostly occurs in spring.[6] Males form alliances to seek an estrous female. For a chance to mate with the female, males separate the female from her home range.[6] Females bear a calf every three to six years.[6][28] After a year-long gestation period, females bear a single calf.[6] 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] They can live as long as 40–50 years.[29] The calf suckling lasts between 18 and 20 months.[6] Sexual maturity varies by population, and ranges from 5–14 years of age;[29] sexual maturity occurs between 8 to 13 years for males and 5 to 10 years for females.[6]

Life expectancy

The average life expectancy of common bottlenose dolphins is about 17 years old,[30][31][32][33] but in captivity they have been known to live to up to 51 years old.[34]

Distribution

The common bottlenose dolphin can be found in the temperate, subtropical and tropical oceans worldwide.[35] The global population has been estimated at 600,000.[36] 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] The species has occurred as far as 50° north in eastern Pacific waters, possibly as a result of warm water events.[37] The coastal dolphins appear to adapt to warm, shallow waters. It has a smaller body and larger flippers, for maneuverability and heat dispersal. They can be found in harbors, bays, lagoons and estuaries. Offshore dolphins, however, are adapted to cooler, deeper waters. Certain qualities in their blood suggest they are more suited to deep diving. Their considerably larger body protects them against predators and helps them retain heat.[38]

Other human interactions

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Five dolphins jumping in a show
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The dolphin watching in the ocean at south of Cape May, New Jersey

Some interactions with humans are harmful to the dolphins. Dolphin hunting industry exists in multiple countries including Japan, where common bottlenose dolphins are hunted for food annually in the town of Taiji,[39] and the Faroe Islands. Also, dolphins are sometimes killed inadvertently as a bycatch of tuna fishing.[40][41]

Tião was a well-known solitary male bottlenose dolphin that was first spotted in the town of São Sebastião in Brazil around 1994 and frequently allowed humans to interact with him. The dolphin later became infamous for killing a swimmer and injuring many others, which earned it the nickname of killer dolphin.

Fungie is another solitary male bottlenose, living in close contact with humans in Dingle harbour, Ireland, since 1983. He has become a symbol of the town, although some doubt exists over whether he is a single dolphin.[42]

Conservation

The North Sea, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea populations of the common bottlenose dolphin are listed in Appendix II[43] to 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.[44]

Estimated population of a few specific areas are including:[3]

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,[45] and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia.[46]

Marine pollution

Common bottlenose dolphins are the most common apex predators found in coastal and estuarine ecosystems along the southern coast of the US,[47] thus serve as an important indicator species of bioaccumulation and health of the ecosystem.

It is believed that some diseases commonly found in dolphins are related to human behaviors, such as water pollution. Water pollution is linked to point and non-point source pollution. Point source pollution comes from a single source such as an oil spill[48] and/or chemical discharge from a specific facility. The environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused a direct impact and still serves as a long term impact of future populations. Common bottlenose dolphins use these important habitats for calving, foraging, and feeding. Environmental impacts or changes from chemicals or marine pollution can alter and disrupt endocrine systems, affecting future populations. For example, oil spills have been related to lung and reproductive diseases in female dolphins. A recent study[49]suggested signs of lung disease and impaired stress in 32 dolphins that were captured and assessed in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, US. Out of these 32 dolphins, 10 were found pregnant and, upon a 47-month check up, only 20% produced feasible calves, compared to a previous success rate of 83%, in the same area. It is believed that a recent oil spill in this area is partially to blame for these severely low numbers.

Dense human development along the eastern coast of Florida and intense agricultural activity have resulted in increased freshwater inputs, changes in drainage patterns, and altered water quality (i.e. chemical contamination, high nutrient input, decreased salinity, decreased sea grass habitat, and eutrophication.[50] High nutrient input from agriculture chemicals and fertilizers causes eutrophication[51] and hypoxia, causing a severe reduction in water quality. Excess of phosphorus and nitrogen from these non-point sources deplete the natural cycle of oxygen by overconsumption of algae. Harmful algal blooms are responsible for dead zones and unusual mortality events of common bottlenose dolphins consuming these toxic fish from the brevetoxin produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis.[52] Brevetoxins are neurotoxins that can cause acute respiratory and neurological symptoms, including death, in marine mammals, sea turtles, birds, and fishes.[53]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Wells, R.S.; Natoli, A.; Braulik, G. (2019). "Tursiops truncatus (errata version published in 2019)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22563A156932432.
  3. ^ a b c d Wells, R.S.; Natoli, A.; Braulik, G. (2019). "Tursiops truncatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22563A50377908. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T22563A50377908.en.
  4. ^ a b c Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. (2005). "Tursiops truncatus". Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  5. ^ a b Leatherwood, S., & Reeves, R. (1990). The Bottlenose Dolphin. San Diego: Academic Press, Inc., ISBN 0-12-440280-1
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jenkins, J. (2009) Tursiops truncatus. Animal Diversity Web.
  7. ^ a b Anonymous (2002). "Bottlenose Dolphin". Seaworld.org. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  8. ^ a b Klinowska, M. (1991). Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World: The IUCN Red Data Book. Gland, Switzerland, U.K.: IUCN, ISBN 2880329361
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  10. ^ a b c d e f Shirihai, H.; Jarrett, B. (2006). Whales Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. pp. 155–158. ISBN 978-0-691-12757-6.
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  14. ^ 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.
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  21. ^ "American Cetacean Society — Bottlenose Dolphin". Archived from the original on 2008-07-25. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
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  30. ^ Hersh S.L., D.K. Odell, E. D. A. "Bottlenose dolphin mortality patterns in the Indian/Banana River system of Florida" in The bottlenose dolphin (ed. Leatherwood, S. and Reeves, R. S.) 155–164 (New York: Academic Press, 1990).
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  32. ^ Stolen, M. K. & Barlow, J. A MODEL LIFE TABLE FOR BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) FROM THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON SYSTEM, FLORIDA, U.S.A. Mar. Mammal Sci. 19, 630–649 (2003).
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  49. ^ Lane, Suzanne M.; Smith, Cynthia R.; Mitchell, Jason; Balmer, Brian C.; Barry, Kevin P.; McDonald, Trent; Mori, Chiharu S.; Rosel, Patricia E.; Rowles, Teresa K.; Speakman, Todd R.; Townsend, Forrest I.; Tumlin, Mandy C.; Wells, Randall S.; Zolman, Eric S.; Schwacke, Lori H. (2015). "Reproductive outcome and survival of common bottlenose dolphins sampled in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, USA, following the Deepwater Horizonoil spill". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 282 (1818): 20151944. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.1944. PMC 4650159. PMID 26538595.
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Common bottlenose dolphin: Brief Summary

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The common bottlenose dolphin or Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the most well-known species of the family Delphinidae.

The common bottlenose dolphin is the most familiar dolphin species due to the wide exposure it receives in captivity in marine parks and dolphinaria, and in movies and television programs. It is the largest species of the beaked dolphins. It inhabits temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world, and is absent only from polar waters. Until recently, all bottlenose dolphins were considered as a single species, but now the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and Burrunan dolphin have been split from the common bottlenose dolphin. While formerly known simply as the bottlenose dolphin, this term is now applied to the genus Tursiops as a whole. These dolphins inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide. As considerable genetic variation has been described among members of this species, even between neighboring populations, many experts consider that additional species may be recognized.

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Diet

provided by World Register of Marine Species
fish, cephalopods, invertebrates
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bibliographic citation
van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Mary Kennedy [email]

Distribution

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circum-global, mostly between 45°N and 45°S
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bibliographic citation
van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Jacob van der Land [email]

Distribution

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East Pacific; Eastern Atlantic Ocean; Indo-West Pacific; Western Atlantic Ocean
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bibliographic citation
van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Mary Kennedy [email]

Habitat

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tropical to temperate, coastal
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bibliographic citation
van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Jacob van der Land [email]

Habitat

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inshore and offshore
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WoRMS Editorial Board
bibliographic citation
van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Mary Kennedy [email]

IUCN Red List Category

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Least Concern (LC)
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van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). IUCN (2008) Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. van der Land, J. (ed). (2008). UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms (URMO). North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS) North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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William Perrin [email]