Dolphin swimming

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus


Bottlenose dolphins are marine mammals that live in fluid social groups called pods. They come and go from the main pod in smaller groups, keeping track of each other with calls, gestures and touch. They use echolocation to navigate and a strong sense of hearing to hunt fish. Dolphins have many teeth but only hold their prey with them—they swallow their food whole.

Dolphins have sleek, mostly hairless bodies with thick skin and blubber. They use their tail fluke for power and pectoral fins (flippers) to steer and stop. A dolphin can move as fast as 40 miles per hour to launch itself out of the water! They can wait up to 4 minutes without taking a breath through their blowhole, which helps them dive. Dolphins never really sleep—they rest only half of their brain at a time, so that they can keep breathing and swimming, day or night!

One dolphin calf is born to a new mom after about a year of gestation. Calves nurse milk from their mom for more than a year, but mothers and other females take care of the calves for up to 3 years. Bottlenose dolphins have strong social bonds that can last decades, as they can live to be 50 years old. They understand human vocal cues, mimic sounds, solve problems together and even use tools for fishing!

Average 8–9 feet long and up to 1,400 pounds
Live in
Oceans around the world except polar regions
Fish, squid, shrimp, crustaceans
IUCN Red List Status
Least Concern
Dolphin close-up face


Bottlenose dolphins are thriving around the world, but like other marine mammals, they can ingest or get tangle in plastic pollution. Waterways in Indiana connect to the Gulf of Mexico, meaning whatever enters our water here can enter the ocean. Reduce your use of plastics by investing in reusable packaging and containers and avoid single-use plastics to keep our waters clean!

Dolphin swimming
Dolphin Meet & Greet

Come behind the scenes and get up close with one of our amazing dolphins!

Dolphin Art Adventure

Animal Amigos

Dolphin Presentation

Our free Dolphin Presentations feature engaging demonstrations by our incredible bottlenose dolphins! Not only will you be enthralled by these powerful and intelligent marine mammals, you’ll learn more about the incredible bond they share with Zoo staff. Presentations are included with regular Zoo admission, but seating is limited. Pavilion doors open 30 minutes prior to each presentation and close 5 minutes before the presentation. Seating is first-come, first-served.