21 Juin 2012
The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) measures up to 9.8fts and weighs around 660lbs. It can be observed in most tropical seas and oceans of the world. It can live up to 40 years old. It adapts its behavior to its living environment, being sedentary near coasts and very mobile offshore.
A primary grey color covers its back and is white on its ventral side. With a robust little beak and a blowhole, the dolphin uses its fleshy forehead to send and receive ultrasound waves – mainly for communication and localization. Its lower jaw is longer than the upper that characterizes a happy “face”.
Fast and agile like a torpedo, it can reach speeds of 30km per hour. Its tapered body allows it to jump out of water during aerial play and games. Like many of the cetacean species, this mammal is adept in apnea, and can easily stay submerged for 15 minutes.
Playful and gregarious in nature, they are often seen in families of 50 dolphins. Like many mammals, a group of dolphins has a social structure that evolves with births, deaths and separations. Each shoal is composed of dominant males, adult females, newborns and young adults. Despite this need to live in a group, we can sometimes observe lone dolphins. This species has the most inclinations to develop relationships with other cetaceans like killer whales or humans. A dolphin has been shown to exhibit unity when in a group. Commonly observed in times of stress, during shark attacks, for example, a dolphin can be seen helping other injured dolphins or in other cases, helping humans in difficulty.
A dolphin’s routine is made up of its search for food, rest (slow swimming or full immobility) and play. Where hunting is concerned, the bottlenose dolphin is an opportunist that feeds on a wide variety of fish, shellfish and octopus. An intelligent hunter, it often hunts in cooperation with a group of others. In fact, inter-species collaboration has been observed between fishermen and dolphins.
As intelligent as a primate, its complex brain is divided into two cerebral hemispheres that are just as complex. Contrary to humans, the dolphin practices voluntary breathing. It must instruct its brain to breath. When it sleeps, it alternates the use of both cerebral hemispheres so at rest; the dolphin avoids death by asphyxiation.
This species becomes sexually mature at 7 years. Females have a gestation period of 1 year after which they give birth. This baby dolphin will stay close to its mother for 3 years creating a strong maternal bond uniting them forever.
The friendly bottlenose dolphin has become famous throughout the world through US TV series like, “Flipper”.
In French Polynesia, the Tiputa dive site owes its reputation to the bottlenose dolphin. You will certainly have the chance to encounter him playing in the waves during your dives there.
© Photo Vincent Truchet