Tursiops truncatus

Common Name: Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops spp: The Tursiops genus has been split into two, T. truncatus and T. aduncus. The taxonomy of this genus is still not thoroughly clear, however due to considerable geographic variations, additional species may be recognised in the future.

Bottlenose Dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphint


Bottlenose Dolphin breaching in the bow wave of a boat

Bottlenose dolphin size.svg

Size comparison against an average human

Conservation Status
bottlenose Status iucn3.1 blank.svg

Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1)

Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Subclass Eutheria
Order Cetacea
Suborder Odontoceti
Family Delphinidae
Genus Tursiops
Species T. truncatus
Binomial Name
Tursiops truncatus
(Montagu, 1828)

bottlenose Cetacea range map

Bottlenose Dolphin range.

Source: Wikipedia

General Description: Bottlenose dolphins have a large, robust head and trunk; the snout is clearly demarcated from the bulbous forehead by a sharp crease. The beak is usually short and stubby and the lower jaw protrudes conspicuously beyond the upper. The dorsal fin is moderately tall and falcate. The flippers are somewhat long and pointy at tips. The colouration is variable, but usually dark or slate grey on back, grading to white or pink on the belly. Adult dolphins may also have a white mark on the tip of the lower jaw. Calves have a slightly bluish colouration.

Size: Calves: Length of animals at birth is approximately 1-1.3 m. Adults: Adult dolphins are between 1.9-3.8 m, males tend to be slightly larger than the females. Maximum weight is around 650kg. 

Appearance At Sea: This is the species of dolphin best known to the general public, as a result of exhibition in dolphinaria and films and television. Group sizes are mostly <20, however larger pods have been observed in offshore areas. They often school with other species including short-fin pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), and can be seen in the company of right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on their migrations.


The Bottlenose Dolphin is found in small herds that sometimes gather into much larger schools. They often school with other species including Shortfin Pilot Whales Globicephala macrorhyncus, and can be seen in the company of Great Right Whales Balaena glacialis and Humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae on their migrations.

There are a number of instances in which Bottlenose Dolphins have displayed mutual assistance and support. In cooperative defence, they may ram large sharks with their beaks or heads. The impact could be great enough to lift the fish out of the water.

Bottlenose Dolphins can reach speeds of 25 kilometres per hour.

Found In: Two forms are bottlenose dolphins are known, coastal and offshore. May be found in depths ranging from 10-1000 m or more.Most dolphins are known to feed off a wide variety of prey species, including fish, and squid.Groups are known to communicate and cooperate between themselves for hunting food. They are sometimes known to eat shrimp and other crustaceans.

Records from India: Majority of the records are from specimens caught in fishing nets. This species is not very common along the west coast of India. Most confirmed sightings are from the southeast coast, and from the Lakshadweep and Andaman Nicobar group of islands.

14-08-2017 approx 7ft long. found floating by the FD. brought ashore by them. curved measurements and samples collected (WII).Due to its short stubby beak and absence of spots on the belly,this is most probably a Tursiops truncatus or Common Bottlenose dolphin was brought ashore in Karankadu village a few km from Thondi.

World Distribution: Found across coastal and continental shelf waters of tropics and temperate regions and associated with reef systems Also occur in enclosed or semi-enclosed seas. Distribution is restricted to lower altitudes.

Could Be Confused With: In areas where they overlap in distribution, common bottlenose dolphins can be confused with Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), rough toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), and spotted dolphins (Stenella spp.). They can be distinguished based on the following characteristics:

Common Bottlenose Dolphin Average size 3m, often more Bulky

Short beak, clearly marked off frommelon

No spots

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin

Average size,  2.7 m

Robust, slender

compared to 

Tursiops truncatus

Moderately long beak, less convex

 melon than T.truncatus

Flecks or black spots

on the belly

Spotted Dolphin Around 2.4 m Slender Longish beak, well demarcated from melon Many regular spots

Rough-toothed dolphin

Seldom more than 2.4m


Long, thin beak not clearly demarcated

from melon

Irregular blotches on belly

Diagnostic Features at sea:  Can be distinguished from Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins based on overall size, shape of head and beak and colouration. Ventral spotting is very rare, unlike Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. 

Stranded Specimens: Stranded individuals can best be identified based stubby beak and robust bodies. Teeth count is usually between 18-27 pairs in each jaw, teeth are stout and pointy and smooth. 

Note: Bottlenose Dolphin recorded from India recently have been identified as Tursiops aduncus. This raises the possibility that previous records of Tursiops truncatus are misidentifications.