When bottlenose dolphins give birth, others surround it for protection. Itís

very dangerous to give birth in the ocean, especially for dolphins. Sharks are drawn

to the blood, and thereís nothing they like more than a nice baby dolphin. It must

be hard for the shark though. With the group of dolphins surrounding the mother,

he canít get through to the baby. After the calf is born, the group of dolphins and

mother help it up to the surface to get itís first breath of air. The calf and mother

are very close for about sixteen months. Mother dolphins can also give birth on

their own; they donít need the help of the others.

Female bottle-nosed dolphins give birth every two to three years. They

become sexually mature around age five and 12, whereas for males it's between ten

and twelve. Gestation lasts a full year, and births occur from February to

May and September to November in Florida. In European waters, births take place


Bottlenose dolphins live up to about fifty years and can weigh up to 330-440

pounds. They can be as long as 13 feet! The bottlenose dolphins have a long beak

like nose, a falcate dorsal fin, and very sharp teeth. They have one blowhole at the

top of their head. They need to breath about once every two minutes, but can hold

their breath up to six minutes.

Dolphins use high-pitched whistles and ďclicksĒ to generate sound waves.

The waves go through the water and bounce off of objects, sending an echo back to

the dolphin. The dolphin has adapted to know what the sounds mean when the echo

comes back. By using the echo, the dolphin can know how far it is away from him,

and the size and shape. This is called echolocation.

Bottlenose dolphins are famous for their ďsmile.Ē They have twenty to

twenty-six teeth. They are considered the most adaptable because they live in

harbors and ship channels around the world. They are very popular in shows at

zoos, marine parks and other tourist attractions.

They eat mainly fish from the surface of the water, squid, shrimp

and other invertebrates. They also eat at human fisheries, eating the catch that is

tossed back. When large schools of fish congregate, dolphins may form 'schools'

numbering several hundred animals to cooperate in the catching of fish. As the

dolphins approach a school, the fish try to scatter, but the dolphins, whistling

directions to each other, drive them into a dense mass and chow down. When there

arenít very many schools of fish, the dolphins become night time hunters, searching

for squid and bottom dwelling fish. At such times, dolphins hunt in small

groups instead of large.

The Coastal Atlantic, North Pacific, and the Indo-Pacific are homes to three

kinds of the bottlenose dolphin- Tursiops truncatus truncatus, T.t. gilli, and T.t.

aduncus. There are about forty different kinds of dolphins and itís close relative,

the porpoise.