Bottlenose Dolphin

ORDER: CETACEA

SUBORDER: ODONTOCETI

FAMILY: DELPHINIDAE

GENRE: TURSIOPS

SPECIES: Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821)

Tursiope, common bottlenose dolphin, delfìn mulàr, grand dauphin, Grosser Tummler

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The adult of  the bottlenose dolphin reaches the average length of 3.8 meters and a weight of 350kg. The female is slightly smaller than the male. The shape of the body is quite robust  more than the one of other delphinids. The coloring is quite nuanced and highly variable between a specimen and the other. Usually the back is gray, the sides of a lighter gray fading without a dividing line in the whitish belly. The bottlenose dolphin is found in all tropical and temperate waters in the coastal areas (including lagoons, estuaries and bays) and pelagic areas. In the Italian seas the species is widespread, especially in the seas around Sicily, the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Sea.

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In coastal areas, the bottlenose dolphin lives on the continental shelf (-100 meters) and forms smaller groups of a few dozen individuals and occasionally larger ones. There often are groups of only females with babies and large groups of adult males which enter into promiscuity with the female only during the breeding season. They don’t have big food preferences, feeding primarily on bluefish, mullet and squid and sometimes benthic invertebrates. There are serious conservation problems affecting the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where, the past hunting, incidental catches and the degradation of the marine environment have caused the decline of the population.