Tursiops truncatus - (Montague, 1821)
Bottlenose Dolphin
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821) (TSN 180426)
French Common Names: dauphin à gros nez, grand dauphin, grand dauphin commun
Spanish Common Names: Delfín Hocico de Botella
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100306
Element Code: AMAGE04010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Whales and Dolphins
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Cetacea Delphinidae Tursiops
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Tursiops truncatus
Taxonomic 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.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Nov1996
Global Status Last Changed: 15Nov1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and common in many areas worldwide.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (19Feb1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SH), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNRN), Hawaii (SNR), Louisiana (S5), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (S2), Mississippi (S4S5), New Jersey (S3), New York (S3), North Carolina (S5N), South Carolina (S4), Texas (S2), Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: 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).

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size 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).

Overall Threat Impact 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.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Local declines have occurred but overall relatively stable.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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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).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, LA, MA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, NY, SC, TX, VA

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Chincoteague (02040303)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: 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).
Ecology Comments: 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).

Habitat Type: Marine
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: 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.
Marine Habitat(s): Near shore, Pelagic
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river
Habitat 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.
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore, Piscivore
Food 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).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Active day and night.
Length: 3700 centimeters
Weight: 650 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic 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.
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Dolphins and Porpoises

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A marine area that is or has been occupied consistently or recurrently. Occurrences not based on the entire range of particular populations or subpopulations, but rather on distinct areas that are important to the survival of these populations. Minimally, at least two and preferably several years of observation should be used to reliably identify significant, recurrent occurrences.
Separation Barriers: Upland areas.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 20 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Separation Justification: Separation Distance arbitrary. In most cases, occurrences should not be extensive areas but rather portions of such areas that stand out as strongly meeting the occurrence criteria.
Available information on genetics, dispersion, and movement patterns of most populations generally is insufficient to determine biologically meaningful separation distances for occurrences. The separation distance used here does not attempt to identify biologically distinct populations but rather is an arbitrary value that attempts to identify relatively distinct geographic areas that have frequent or concentrated activity and that are of practical size.
Bottlenose Dolphins (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) that were resident in a South Carolina estuary had relatively small home ranges (mean 51.3 square kilometers, 95% adaptive kernel method; Gubbins 2002).

Date: 06Mar2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the families Delphinidae and Phocoenidae, except ORCINUS ORCA.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15Nov1996
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04Dec1997
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Baird, R. W., E. L. Walters, and P. J. Stacey. 1993a. Status of the bottlenose dolphin, TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS, with special reference to Canada. Can. Field-Nat. 107:466-480.

  • Baird, R. W., E. L. Walters, and P. J. Stacey. 1993b. Status report on the bottlenose dolphin TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 48 pp.

  • Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.

  • Bradley, R.D., L.K. Ammerman, R.J. Baker, L.C. Bradley, J.A. Cook. R.C. Dowler, C. Jones, D.J. Schmidly, F.B. Stangl Jr., R.A. Van den Bussche and B. Würsig. 2014. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2014. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 327:1-28. Available at: <http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/publications/opapers/ops/OP327.pdf> (Accessed April 1, 2015)

  • Carretta, J. C., K. A. Forney, and J. L. Laake. 1999. Abundance of southern California coastal bottlenose dolphins estimated from tandem aerial surveys. Marine Mammal Science 14:655-675.

  • Defran, R. H., D. W. Weller, D. L. Kelly, and M. A. Espinosa. 1999. Range characteristics of Pacific coast bottlenose dolphins (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) in the Southern California Bight. Marine Mammal Science 15:381-393.

  • Duignan, P. J., et al. 1996. Morbillivirus infection in bottlenose dolphins: evidence for recurrent epizootics in the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Marine Mammal Science 12:499-515.

  • Fairbairn, P., and A. Haynes. 1982. Jamaican surveys of the West Indian manatee Trichechus manatus, dolphin Tursiops truncatus, sea turtles (families Cheloniidae and Dermochelydae) and booby terns (family Laridae). FAO Fish. Rep. 278:289-295.

  • Folkens, P. 1984. The whale watcher's handbook. Doubleday Co., Inc., Garden City, NY 208 pp.

  • Godin, A. J. 1977. Wild mammals of New England. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 304 pp.

  • Gubbins, C. 2002. Use of home ranges by resident bottlenose dolphins (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) in a South Carolina estuary. Journal of Mammalogy 83:178-187.

  • Hall, E. R. 1981a. The Mammals of North America, second edition. Vols. I & II. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York. 1181 pp.

  • IUCN (World Conservation Union). 1991. Dolphins, Porpoises and Whales of the World: the IUCN Red Data Book. M. Klinowska (compiler). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, United Kingdom. viii + 429 pp.

  • Jefferson, T. A., S. Leatherwood, and M. A. Webber. 1993. FAO species identification guide: Marine mammals of the world. Rome, FAO. 320 pp. Online. Available: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/t0725e/t0725e00.pdf.

  • Jones, J. K., Jr., R. S. Hoffman, D. W. Rice, C. Jones, R. J. Baker, and M. D. Engstrom. 1992a. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 146:1-23.

  • Katona, S. K., V. Rough, and D. T. Richardson. 1983. A Field guide to the whales, porpoises, and seals of the gulf of Maine and eastern Canada. Cape Cod to Newfoundland. Charles Scribner's Sons, N.Y. 255 pp.

  • Leatherwood, S., and R. R. Reeves, eds. 1989. The bottlenose dolphin. Academic Press, New York. 653 pp.

  • Leatherwood, S., and R. R. Reeves. 1983. The Sierra Club handbook of whales and dolphins. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco. 302 pp.

  • Nowak, R. M. 1991. Walker's mammals of the world. Fifth edition. Vols. I and II. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore. 1629 pp.

  • Pacheco, V., H. de Macedo, E. Vivar, C. Ascorra, R. Arana-Cardó, and S. Solari. 1995. Lista anotada de los mamíferos peruanos. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

  • Rice, D. W. 1998. Marine mammals of the world: systematics and distribution. Society for Marine Mammalogy, Special Publication Number 4. ix + 231 pp.

  • Rossbach, K. A., and D. L. Herzing. 1997. Underwater observations of benthic-feeding bottlenose dolphins (TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS) near Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas. Marine Mammal Science 13:498-504.

  • Tirira, D. 1999. Mamíferos del Ecuador. Museo de Zoología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito.

  • Tomich, P. Q. 1986. Mammals in Hawai'i. A synopsis and notational bibliography. Second edition. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 375 pp.

  • Wells, R. S., H. L. Rhinehart, P. Cunningham, J. Whaley, M. Baran, C. Koberna, and D. P. Costa. 1999. Long distance offshore movements of bottlenose dolphins. Marine Mammal Science 15:1098-1114.

  • Wells, R. S., M. D. Scott, and A. B. Irvine. 1987. The social structure of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins. Pages 247-305 in: Genoways, H. H., ed. Current Mammalogy. Vol. 1. Plenum Press, New York.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at: http://vertebrates.si.edu/msw/mswcfapp/msw/index.cfm

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