Bottlenose Dolphins

Scientific Name:   Tursiops truncates

When is the best time to view Bottlenose Dolphins in Monterey Bay and where is the best viewing?

Bottlenose dolphins are year-round inhabitants of Monterey Bay. The best time to view them is on a clear day as they travel in small groups. They are considered a resident of the sanctuary and can be spotted from almost any beach in Monterey Bay. Bottlenose dolphins tend to surf in the breakers and spend considerable time within a mile of shore. About 3,000 bottlenose dolphins reside off the California coast.

The best chance of spotting whales or dolphins is from one of several whale watching boat excursions leaving daily from Fisherman’s Wharf or Moss Landing. 


About Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins range from light to dark gray and have a short beak. The bottlenose dolphin is very intelligent and one of the most highly studied cetaceans by marine biologists and behavioral ecologists. Like many dolphin species, bottlenose dolphins use echolocation to locate prey by producing clicking sounds that travel underwater.  Once the sound reaches the object, it then bounces back to the dolphin and reveals the location, size and shape of the object. 

The differences between inshore and offshore populations of bottlenose dolphins are being studied. Organizations in California have been photo-identifying the inshore population, which are about 450 individuals. Bottlenose dolphins have very unique markings, which are as distinctive and personal as a fingerprint. 


Bottlenose Dolphin Fun Facts

  • Bottlenose dolphins can reach speeds of over 18 mph
  • Have been observed jumping up to 16 feet out of the water
  • Surface two or three times a minute to breathe
  • Produce up to 1,000 clicking noises per second
  • Help each other if they are injured 
  • Babies stay with mom 3-8 years

Habitat: Inshore and offshore waters all along the coast; Tropical oceans and other warm waters around the globe

Length: average 10 feet; up to 14 feet

Weight: 440-660 lbs. with males being significantly larger than females

Diet: Often bottom-dwelling fish, as well as shrimp and squid; spotted following fishing boats hoping to get leftovers

Lifespan: 40–50 years

Reproduction: Bottlenose Dolphins mate throughout the year with gestation lasting 12 months typically resulting in a single calf (twins are rare)