Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

Body Length:7'6"–9'6"
Tail Length:About one-third of their body length
Weight:330–496 lbs.
Geographic Distribution:The Atlantic coast from Virginia to Florida, as well as the Gulf of Mexico to Texas; other subspecies can be found in the coastal waters of the West Indies, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic coastal waters of Europe
Habitat:Temperate and tropical waters
Wild Diet:Fish, squid and crustaceans
Zoo Diet:Capelin, smelt, herring, and other fish types
Status in the Wild:Least Concern
Location:Seven Seas

Atlantic bottlenosed dolphins are dark gray on their back, light gray on their flanks and white or pink on their belly. They have a well-defined snout and 18 to 26 teeth on each side of their jaw (72 to 104 total). Their eyes are located right behind the spot where the upper and lower jaw meet. Dolphins have three sets of fins: pectoral flippers, dorsal fin, and tail flukes. Dolphins propel themselves through the water by moving their tail in an up and down motion, unlike fish and sharks that move their tails in a side to side motion. Each dolphin has unique markings and coloration on its body and dorsal fin shape. This assists researchers and their keepers tell them apart from one another.

Status in the Wild: Dolphins are threatened by a variety of natural and human-related activities. Natural factors include predation by large sharks, disease, parasites, exposure to natually occurring biotoxins, changes in prey availability, and loss of habitat. Human related factors include loss of habitat due to coastal development, noise and pollution from oil and gas development, interactions with recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as injury, mortality, or behavior changes resulting from human interaction. Even though dolphins are listed as a species of least concern, threats to these animals are increasing.

Conservation Programs: Listed as of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). CZS' Sarasota Dolphin Research Program The Chicago Zoological Society administers the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Endangered Species Fund, which supports conservation-oriented research. The grant program attracts dozens of innovative research projects each quarter, which have included dolphin conservation. The Chicago Zoological Society's Brookfield Zoo dolphin program is accredited by the AZA and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.