Bottle-nosed dolphin

Tursiops truncatus

This cosmopolitan dolphin lives in small groups near to the coastline and it is not unusual to spot it swimming around inside ports. It feeds on shrimp, squid and a wide variety of fish. It can reach up to 3 metres in length and weigh more than 500 kg.


This dolphin used to be found along all the coast of Catalonia, but nowadays the population is only in three specific places: in the north of the Costa Brava, another on the coast at Garraf and the third in the Ebro delta.

Breeding program

EPP - Zoo Barcelona

Natural habit

All of the world’s oceans, except for the Arctic and Antarctic.

Bottle-nosed dolphin
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Least Concern



Physical characteristics

150-600 kg
Birth Weight: 14-30 kg
190-380 cm
More than 40 years in captivity


Social life



Discover how they are



With a fusiform body adapted perfectly to swimming, a big head, long muzzle and a breathing spiracle on top of its head. Its limbs are fin shaped: it uses the caudal fin for propulsion, while the pectorals control its swimming direction. Its general colouring is grey, darker on the dorsal and lighter on the underbelly.


It is a cosmopolitan species, although more abundant in tropical and temperate waters. It can swim in the open sea, but this dolphin has a preference for coastal areas, approaching beaches, bays and estuaries, and even swimming into ports.


It feeds on prawns, crabs, squid, octopi and a large variety of fish, tending to eat only the softest parts.


Gestation lasts around one year, and a single calf is born with each delivery. Unlike the majority of mammals, babies are born tail first. Capturing food requires a long learning period from the young animals, so that they are dependent on their mothers for a long period of time. Even the nursing period is quite considerable and can last up to 20 months.


Less gregarious than other dolphin species, the bottlenose lives in small groups of between five and 20 individuals, although there are also more solitary specimens. There are well-defined hierarchies among group members.


In our waters, they are quite sedentary and tend to remain in territories with radii of several dozen kilometres. They do not migrate or travel during certain seasons, although in the summer, they do tend to move away from the coast due to the excessive human presence along the entire coastline during this period.

Status and conservation programs

They are still quite common in many locations of their enormous area of distribution, although there are increasingly less specimens in other areas, including the Mediterranean. They used to be found along the entire Catalan coast, although populations have shrunk greatly in recent decades, so that there are currently only three relatively stable population cores today: the northern Costa Brava, in Garraf and a third in the Delta de Ebre. The exact number of specimens is unknown, although it probably doesn't exceed a few hundred.