Bottlenose Dolphins

Tursiops truncatus

in Tenerife there are pods of both oceanic and costal ecotypes of Bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin in Tenerife

The Bottlenose dolphin is the second most common cetacean species we encounter on our Tenerife whale and dolphin watching tours. There are two different ecotypes of Bottlenose dolphins that we can observe on our tours; the coastal resident pods and the oceanic migratory pods.

The seas on the south coast of Tenerife are warm and sheltered creating the perfect environment for both of the Bottlenose dolphin ecotypes to thrive. The steep underwater topography of Tenerife creates upwelling of deep ocean currents bringing the Bottlenose dolphins prey food to the upper water column.

The coastal ecotype tends to prefer the shallow shoreline to hunt fish and socialise, the oceanic ecotype tends to be seen further offshore in the deep ocean. The two ecotypes of Bottlenose dolphin in Tenerife also differ in pod size, behaviour and appearance. The oceanic ecotype is larger and more robust, often seen in pods of over 50 cetaceans and very often active around the whale watching boat. The coastal ecotype tends to be a smaller size found in small pods of no more than 8-10 cetaceans with shy behaviour.

information on the resident pods of Bottlenose dolphins in Tenerife Canary Islands

Bottlenose Dolphin Info

Both the oceanic and coastal ecotypes of Bottlenose dolphins are grey in colour with subtle shading. Their backs are typically dark grey, the sides a lighter grey and their undersides almost white. This is called countershading and acts like ocean camouflage making it hard for their prey to see underwater when they are swimming.

Adult Bottlenose dolphins can grow up to 4 metres in length and weigh up to 600 kg with the males being slightly larger than the females. Bottlenose dolphins typically live between 40-60 years. Female and juvenile Bottlenose dolphins live in mixed pods while adult males usually form their own small pods. Both groups regularly mix while hunting, socialising and mating. They communicate using chirps, squeaks and whistles.

The main prey of the Bottlenose dolphin is small fish found in the upper water column. The pods often work together as a group herding the fish into a bait ball making it easier to harvest fish from the school. Bottlenose Dolphins use active echolocation during their hunts for schools of fish, something we can listen to during the tours on our marine hydrophone.