Bottlenose Dolphins

Meet our dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most popular animals here at SeaWorld®. With their playful personalities, curious natures and faces that seem to be sporting permanent smiles, it’s easy to see why.

But it’s also an animal we want to get close to, and that’s what SeaWorld’s all about, helping to make that human-animal connection possible. So while you’ll learn about them here, be sure to spend some time with them at SeaWorld, where you can really see their magnificent personalities shine.

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Facts

Bottlenose Dolphin Facts

Spend a little time around bottlenose dolphins and you’ll hear all sorts of curious sounds they use to communicate. Pay close attention to their whistles which are as unique to them as your voice is to you. How cool is that?

Here are a few more fun facts about dolphins:

• Bottlenose dolphins can develop their signature whistles as young as only one month old.

• Bottlenose dolphins also communicate through sounds like clicking, creaking, squeaking and a series of buzzing clicks. In fact, that creaky door you thought you hear opening behind you at the park may actually be a dolphin saying hello.

• Fun fact for kids: Each dolphin’s signature whistle is so distinct that scientists can tell dolphins apart just by looking at their whistle shapes on a sonogram. Here at SeaWorld®, our animal trainers and zoologists can tell the dolphins here apart in a way that’s often just as accurate — by their big personalities!

You can hear how dolphins communicate right now at the bottlenose dolphin education page on our extensive Animals educational site, seaworld.org.

Connections

Make a Connection

No matter how much you read about dolphins, the best way to learn about them is to spend time with them up close, nose-to-bottlenose, and make a personal connection of your own. 

Visit the Dolphin Nursery at SeaWorld® to see the youngest members of our dolphin family. For a real treat, stop by the dolphin habitat during feeding time when you can touch and feed a dolphin yourself. 

If that’s still not close enough for the dolphin lover in you, then add an unforgettable day at Discovery Cove® to your Florida family vacation, where you can swim with bottlenose dolphins and spend the day watching them play as you enjoy all there is to do at this one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive day resort. 

Visiting Southern California? Treat yourself to an unforgettable in-water Dolphin Interaction at SeaWorld in San Diego, an experience that will stay with you long after you leave the park.

Conservation

Conservation

The charismatic and intelligent bottlenose dolphins live all over the world. While bottlenose dolphins aren’t endangered, our SeaWorld® Animal Rescue Team is often called to help save dolphins who have been orphaned or injured, not only along the coasts of the United States, but around the globe. In fact, SeaWorld’s marine mammal care and zoological facilities are among the best in the world.

See some of our inspiring dolphin rescue stories as they unfolded on Sea Rescue on ABC, hosted by Sam Champion, weather anchor of Good Morning America.

If you’re passionate about preserving wildlife and wild places, learn how you can help by supporting the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund®, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with 100% of all donations going to work in the wild. 

Q&A

Q&A

Q: Where do bottlenose dolphins live?

SW: Bottlenose dolphins are warm water lovers, and can be found in tropical oceans worldwide. They can live either close to shore in bays, harbors and lagoons or farther out at sea in cooler, deeper waters. Typically they prefer water warmer than 50°F.

Q: Are dolphins really as smart as we think?

SW: That’s a great question, and not an easy one to answer – or at least to prove. The bottlenose dolphin brain is larger than most animals their size. Still, some scientists argue that the extra brain capacity is to allow for their complex communication, which would mean a larger auditory part of the brain than most other marine mammals.

Q: Are bottlenose dolphins endangered?

SW: While some members of the dolphins family are endangered, like those found sometimes in rivers, bottlenose dolphins are not listed as endangered. Still, because they are not shy around humans, they sometimes find themselves caught in fishing lines or struck by boats.

Q: What do dolphins eat?

SW: If you like seafood, you and a bottlenose dolphin may share a few favorites. They have a pretty hearty diet that includes a wide variety of fishes, squids and shrimps. And here’s a fun fact: dolphins only use their teeth to catch fish, but not to chew. That’s right, they swallow their food whole.

Q: Why do dolphins follow the wake of boats?

SW: Bottlenose dolphins can often be seen racing to ride on the bow waves or the stern wakes of boats, a thrilling thing for those on board to watch. While it looks like they’re just doing it to have fun – which is probably true – scientists also believe this activity probably first developed early in life, when they road alongside their mother in her slip-stream (or hydrodynamic wave). Dolphins also ride ocean swells and even the wakes of large whales.


Q: Are there any baby dolphins at SeaWorld?

SW: Yes, in fact SeaWorld is a global leader in bottlenose dolphin reproduction. Most of SeaWorld’s dolphins were born at one of our parks, and many of these have become mothers themselves. These successful births have contributed significant information to studies of bottlenose dolphin reproduction, growth, and development.

Teacher's Corner

Teacher’s Corner

Whether you’re leading a classroom or home schooling, you’ll find a comprehensive resource for over 350 animals on our education site, SeaWorld.org.

The bottlenose dolphins page takes a deep dive into the species’ habitat and worldwide distribution, physical characteristics, behavior, diet and eating habits, communication and more, including sample sounds and animated graphics.

You can also order “The Whale and Dolphin Story” for your classroom from our Emmy award-winning Saving a Species® DVD series, available on seaworld.org under Educational Resources.