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Bottlenose Dolphins: The Players Have Arrived… Early!

Posted by Jody on March 28, 2012

Even though my family will head for the beach any time of year, it’s no surprise that many beach lovers prefer to wait until the weather heats up.

This year, due to the unseasonably warm weather, a number of marine species, including bottlenose dolphins, have returned to the Atlantic coast of Delaware early. According to the article, “Warm winter weather means dolphins come early” at, “The early arrival of dolphins is one of the most significant marine developments in the area, especially considering just how early they have come. The first sightings took place in early February, Thurman said, and by mid-March, they were being widely spotted.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Photo:PD-USgov-FWS)

NOAA’s Bottlenose Dolphin webpage tells us: “The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well known species of marine mammals. They have a robust body and a short, thick beak. Their coloration ranges from light gray to black with lighter coloration on the belly. Inshore and offshore individuals vary in color and size. Inshore animals are smaller and lighter in color, while offshore animals are larger, darker in coloration and have smaller flippers.”  Ranging in length from 6.0 to 12.5 ft, adult bottlenose dolphins can weigh from 300 to 1400 lbs, with the males typically being slightly larger than the females. These entertaining marine mammals can live more than 50 years. Commonly seen in groups of 2 to 15, they can actually be found in offshore herds of several hundred. Now, that’s a sight to behold!

Bottlenose Dolphin Worldwide Range in Blue (Map:The Emirr/Wikimedia Commons)

Mom and Greg watching the dolphins, Captiva Island, Florida

Here are just a few fun facts about bottlenose dolphins from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory:

Bottlenose dolphins are the most studied cetacean in the wild because they live near coasts, and in captivity because they adapt well to oceanariums.

Bottlenose dolphins often ride the bow waves of moving vessels, have been reported riding pressure waves of big whales, and body surfing in nearshore waves.

There are stories about wild dolphins aiding or interacting with humans.  A bottlenose dolphin that was named Percy resided off the coast of Cornwall, England.  He followed local fishing boats, played with their crab pots, and even allowed strangers to hang onto his dorsal fin as he pulled them through the water.

Our family has been lucky enough to watch dolphins in the wild many, many times while we’ve been on beach vacations.  Whether seen from the beach, pier, jetty, or boat, it’s always a thrill to view these ever popular coastal critters. While simply strolling on the sand, we’ve seen bottlenose dolphins close to the shore at Venice Beach, California and along the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida. Often observed playing in the bow waves of boats, they can really ham it up for the tourists.  On a commercial boat ride from Captiva Island, Florida we were told to really whoop it up and make noise (this would encourage the dolphins to perform). We did, and true to form, they put on a show – racing and gliding, weaving and jumping in and out of the water for us all to enjoy. I’m still not certain who the real spectators were ~and who the real jesters were!

Bottlenose Dolphins, Captiva Island, Florida

We’d love to hear about your encounters and adventures with bottlenose dolphins.  Please feel free to leave us a comment or share a guest post. We’d also appreciate it if you would share us with your friends and like us on Facebook at One Shell of a Find!  Thank you!

2 Responses to “Bottlenose Dolphins: The Players Have Arrived… Early!”

  1. Lynn said

    My most favorite subject of all!!

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