Fiordland's Bottlenose Dolphins

17 Bottlenose Dolphin Facts

One of the most common sights you will see when in Doubtful Sound are our resident Bottlenose dolphins (‘Tursiops truncates’) that love to regularly, playfully follow our boat SEAFINN when out on one of our Doubtful Sound overnight cruises [link’s to Doubtful Sound Cruise page].

They are often seen leaping out of the water in the wake of the boat or skirting amongst the waves alongside us and have even been seen right up and under our kayaks when weather allows us to do that activity.

Lucky kayaker with dolphins In fact, our Clients have had some great up-close-and-personal interactions with these charming wild bottlenose dolphins especially when kayaking which naturally brings great joy to them as that’s not an experience you tend to get everywhere and often results in a memory that will last them a lifetime!

As we see these friendly mammals so often we thought you might like to know some great interesting facts about them – 17 to be exact so enjoy!

Do you know:

  1. What size does the bottlenose dolphin grow to?
    1.9m to 3.9m and tend to be a bit larger than the common dolphin. (1)
  2. How much does a bottlenose dolphin weigh?
    They can weigh anywhere between 250 to 650kg! (1)
  3. Ever wondered what a bottlenose dolphin looks like?
    They tend to be a dark grey on the top with a lighter grey on their stomachs. (1) They are named ‘bottlenose’ because of their elongated snout (‘rostrum’) – with their ‘real’ nose on their head (the blowhole) and because they have slightly upturned corners on their mouths they always look like there are smiling which is what we love the most about them! (2)
  4. How many teeth do they have?
    80 – 100 and are shaped like cones used for grabbing food rather than for chewing it. (2)
  5. What is the bottlenose dolphin lifespan?
    Male dolphins can live anywhere between 40-45 and females are luckier and can survive up until around 50. (1)
  6. What do bottlenose dolphins eat?
    Fish, squid and crustaceans and need to eat anywhere between 7kg – 13.5kg of food a day. (1)
  7. How do they find food?
    Through a form of sonar known as echolocation were they make sounds and the waves/echo bouncing off their target indicate where they need to move to locate it. (4)
  8. Did you know that bottlenose dolphins are mammals?
    They are, and even nurse their calves with milk just like humans! (2)
  9. How deep can they swim too?
    They can go as deep as 230m under the water but because they need to come up for air they tend to prefer to stay shallow even though they can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes they typically only last a few minutes at any one time. (3)
  10. How fast can a bottlenose dolphin swim?
    5 to 11km/hour but can go as fast as 35 km/hr. Register that when next driving your car! (2)
  11. How high can they leap out of the water?
    Up to 6 metres. (2)
  12. How big are their pods?
    Typically in New Zealand up to around 60 in a pod though elsewhere they have been known to go as large as a 1000! (1) (2)
  13. What sound does a bottlenose dolphin make?
    They squeak and whistle which they do through one of their 6 air sacs they have near their blow hole. They also snap their jaws, slap their tails on the water and have even been known to butt heads! (2)
  14. How do they reproduce?
    They tend to have more than one partner throughout the year, the gestation period is 12 months and a young calf can suckle from a year and a half up to 8 years! (2)
  15. Show Ponies!
    Bottlenose dolphins are typically the one’s you find in Aquarium shows and TV programs and even perform for us in the wild! (2)
  16. How brainy are they?
    Well we has humans have the largest brain mass on the planet but the next in line are dolphins which accounts for their intellectual and emotional intelligence they tend to display even to the point of being able to somehow pass on cultural knowledge from generation to generation. (2)(4)
  17. Finally did you know they have to stay awake to breathe – even when they sleep?
    It’s true! These remarkable animals use half their brain to sleep and the other remains active so that they are able to continue breathing when resting which is often why you will see them floating on the surface of the water (a term called ‘logging’) and even shut just one eye whilst doing so! (4)

Playing dolphins If you would like to take the opportunity of seeing these delightful animals in their natural habitat this is just one of the many amazing life experiences you will encounter when doing an overnight cruise with us on Doubtful Sound.

Why not wrap it all up in one great package? Cruise Doubtful Sound, possibly see Albatross, Fiordland Penguins, do some fishing, help pull up a pod of some of the biggest crayfish you are ever likely to see in your lifetime, have some great food, watch the dolphins from the boat and if weather allows you may even be lucky enough to see them whilst kayaking!

Talk about packing it in!

If you would like more information on our Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise please CLICK HERE!

Bottlenose dolphin
Jumping dolphin
Close encounter with dolphin