Bottle-nosed Dolphin

Tursiops truncatus


The most familiar of the dolphins and the most likely to be seen from British shores, the Bottle-nosed Dolphin is found all round the world. Closer to home, the best places to see these dolphins are the Moray Firth in Scotland, Cardigan Bay in Wales and the coasts of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. They are social animals, usually found in small groups of up to 15 animals. They are very acrobatic, often jumping out of the water or even doing somersaults. Bottle-nosed Dolphins feed on fish.

How to identify

A large, fairly plain grey dolphin, darker above and paler below. Beak is short and dorsal fin is large, triangular and curved backwards.

Where to find it

Found all around the UK.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Bottle-nosed Dolphins and other marine mammals are under threat from pollution in our seas. You can help to keep our seas and beaches clean by taking litter home. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Bottle-nosed Dolphin
Latin name
Tursiops truncatus
Seals, turtles and other marine mammals
Length: up to 4m Weight: 500kg Average Lifespan: 45-50 years
Conservation status
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, listed under CITES Appendix II and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Also protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995