Bottlenose Dolphins

C Fi 9901

According to Mote Marine at least 4,000 Dolphins have trolled the waters from Fort Myers to St. Petersburg since 1970 but only 150 Bottlenose Dolphins have lingered long enough in Sarasota Bay to be considered residents.

These identifiable dolphins use the bay regularly and sightings are common. Some are more than 50 years old, and have spent most, if not all of their lives in the bay. Other dolphin communities reside in the waters to the north, south and offshore of Sarasota Bay.

The best time to spot dolphins pods around Sarasota is around sunrise, mid-morning between 10 AM and Noon and mid afternoon between 2 PM and Sunset.

Mote Marine has been rehabbing dolphins at the Sarasota, FL based facilities since 1992. It is illegal to feed or attempt to touch our dolphin neighbors.

Bottlenose Dolphins Facts

  • Bottlenose dolphins are a type of marine mammal.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are found in warm oceans and waters around the world.
  • Bottlenose dolphins of North American are not endangered or threatened.
  • As the name “bottlenose” suggests, this kind of dolphin has a short, stubby beak.
  • Bottlenose dolphins have a curved dorsal fin in the middle of their back, along with powerful, broad flukes on their tail and a pointed flipper on each side.
  • Bottlenose dolphins beside whales and porpoises belong to the Cetacean order, whose closest global relatives on land include hippopotamuses.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are social animals and can generally be found living in groups called ‘pods.’
  • Bottlenose dolphins’ names suggest that they have narrow, bottle-shaped snouts, which help streamline their sleek, powerful bodies.
  • North American Bottlenose dolphins are usually black to a light gray, with white bellies, which are sometimes slightly pink.
  • Sometimes bottlenose dolphin has spots on their bellies and a stripe from the eye to the flipper base.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are the ocean’s most efficient swimmers.
  • They can live underwater and can hold their breath for up to 7 minutes; dolphins must come to the surface to breathe air.
  • They have sensitive, smooth skin that flakes off and gets replaced every few hours.
  • A muscular flap covers their blowhole while underwater and opens to exhale once they reach the surface.
  • Bottlenose dolphins can exhale air at 160 km/hr (100 mph.)
  • When they inhale, they can exchange up to 80% of the contents of their lungs.
  • Dolphins aren’t reflex breathers like humans.
  • Bottlenose dolphins can never fully sleep.
  • North American bottlenose dolphins feature front flippers, flukes, and a dorsal fin, which they use to aid their swimming.
  • The dorsal fin, located near the middle of the back, is tall and curved.
  • The Bottlenose dolphins’ diets’ are composed primarily of various fish, such as mullet, tuna, and mackerel.
  • They have also been known to eat bottom-feeders, as well as a variety of crustaceans and squid.
  • As mammals, bottlenose dolphins bear live young, rather than laying eggs like fish, reptiles, and birds.
  • During the breeding season, male dolphins will fight other males for female mates.
  • At breeding times, bottlenose dolphins even work in pairs to separate and protect a single female.
  • Dolphins must consciously swim to the surface to take a breath.
  • Once mating has successfully occurred, a female will give birth in an average of 12 months.
  • Breeding can occur at any time of the year but occurs mostly in the spring, with a smaller peak in the fall.
  • A newborn dolphin is called a calf.
  • Adult dolphins range from roughly 6.5 to 13 feet in length and from 330 to nearly 1500 pounds in weight.
  • Dolphins have been known to follow fishing boats, stealing fish from their nets.
  • Bottlenose dolphins communicate with ‘echolocation,’ a form of sonar in which the dolphin identifies objects by producing a range of squeaks and clicks and listening for the resulting echoes.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are known for their playful nature and can often be seen frolicking and diving out of the water.
  • They are vulnerable to many threats, including disease, biotoxins, pollution, habitat alteration, vessel collisions, human feeding and activities causing harassment, interactions with commercial and recreational fishing, energy exploration, oil spills, and other types of human disturbance (such as underwater noise.)
  • Bottlenose dolphins have 18 to 28 conical shaped teeth on each side of each jaw.
  • They do not chew their food with their teeth.
  • The bottlenose dolphin is a very social animal.
  • Bottlenose dolphin engages in aggressive behavior, such as biting, ramming, tail slapping; and behavior of bonding and acceptance behavior, such as rubbing and stroking.
  • Dolphins can communicate through touch.
  • Each day, an adult Bottlenose dolphin can eat 6.8 to 13.5 kg (15 to 30 pounds) of food.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are polygamous.
  • A female will look after the calf until it reaches 18 – 20 months.
  • Bottlenose dolphins give birth every 3 to 6 years. Females usually fall pregnant soon after weaning, and they can continue to give birth until their late forties.
  • Females bottlenose dolphins usually reach sexual maturity between five and ten years and males between 8 and 13.
  • Bottlenose dolphins lack a sense of smell. They do have a sense of taste, distinguishing between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes.
  • The worldwide population of common bottlenose dolphins is about 600,000.
  • Male bottlenose dolphins are slightly larger than females.
  • Newborn calves weigh approximately 20 kg (44 lbs.)
  • Female dolphins are called a cow.
  • Male dolphins are called bulls.
  • Young dolphins are called calves.
  • Bottlenose dolphins have excellent eyesight and hearing and the ability to use echolocation to find the exact location of objects.
  • Dolphins communicate with each other by clicking, whistling, and other sounds.
  • Bottlenose dolphins face the threat of extinction, often directly as a result of human behavior.
  • Some fishing methods, such as nets, kill a large number of dolphins in North America every year.
  • Their sense of touch is well-developed, but they have no sense of smell.
  • Dolphins eat through their mouths and breathe through their blowholes.
  • Bottlenose dolphin’s pregnancies range from 11 to 17 months.
  • When a pregnant female dolphin is ready to deliver, she separates herself from the rest of the pod to a location near the water’s surface.
  • Dolphin calves are usually born tail first.
  • At birth, calves are about 35–40 inches long and weigh between 23 and 65 pounds.
  • Because they are mammals, they breathe air into their lungs, just as humans do.
  • The mother immediately brings her infant to the surface so it can breathe.
  • Newborn calves look a bit different from their parents. They typically have dark skin with lighter bands, which fade over time.
  • Newborn calves fins are quite soft but harden very quickly.
  • They can swim almost immediately but do require the protection of the pod.
  • The young dolphins are normally nursed for the first two to three years of life.
  • Newborn calves can stay with their mothers for up to eight years.
  • In most cases, Bottlenose dolphins can live at least 40 years.
  • Female bottlenose dolphins outlive males and can live for more than 60 years.
  • Dolphins generally begin to reproduce when they are between 5 and 15 years old,
  • Female bottlenose dolphins reach sexual maturity before males.
  • Females as old as 45 have given birth.
  • Bottlenose dolphins do not have a traditional mating season.
  • One of the less surprising Bottlenose dolphins facts is that they are amazingly playful.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are omnivores with a diet that consists of a wide variety of foods.
  • Being mammals, bottlenose dolphins do not breathe underwater.
  • Bottlenose dolphins can hold their breath but breathe four to five times per minute, on average when on the surface.
  • Because dolphins can only breathe through their blowhole, their mouths are free to catch prey, which stops water from getting into their lungs.
  • Bottlenose dolphin’s brains are larger than a human’s.
  • Bottlenose dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror and even used the mirror to check different parts of their bodies.
  • Dolphins can determine the shape, speed, size, distance, and direction of travel regarding surrounding objects.
  • Bottlenose dolphins recognize different sounds made by different dolphins.
  • Bottlenose dolphins sleep in two different ways. They can rest quietly in the water, vertically or horizontally.
  • They can also sleep while swimming slowly next to another dolphin.
  • A mother dolphin cannot stop swimming the first few weeks of her calf’s life because the calf will sink.
  • Baby dolphins rest, eat and sleep while their mother swims.
  • One side of the bottlenose dolphin’s brain must always be active so that they remember to breathe.
  • With eyes located at the side of their heads, they have a nearly 360-degree field of vision.
  • Bottlenose dolphins have strong eye muscles, which can change their lens shape and allow them to focus both underwater and on the surface.
  • Bottlenose dolphins also have an excellent sense of hearing.
  • Sounds travel through their lower jaw to their inner ear.
  • Each Bottlenose dolphins have a signature whistle used to identify itself.
  • When lost or isolated, they use the signature whistle to call out to the group.
  • Bottlenose dolphins take turns herding fish into smaller areas while others swim through and snap the fish up.
  • Bottlenose dolphins generally swim in groups (called pods) of 10-25.
  • Offshore, bottlenose dolphins have been seen in groups of several hundred.
  • Large groups of dolphins are called herds.
  • Bottlenose dolphins have been documented creating bubble rings with their blowholes, spinning them with their beaks, and then breaking them apart by biting them.
  • Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most intelligent mammals on Earth.



Sandra Knowles

Sandy is a 13 year old 8th grader from Tampa, Florida. She is an athlete, musician, and dabbles in all forms of art. She also loves to skateboard and travel. Sandy became interested in chalk art because of her grandma, "Mimi", who volunteers for the Chalk Festival in Venice each year. She enjoys dabbling in all art mediums so she really indulged in this experience in downtown Sarasota. She also thought it was very cool to drive by a month later and notice it was still there!

Sandy painted a dolphin in the sunset, which is something that she relates to visiting her Mimi in Venice.