Dolphins are believed to be among the most intelligent animals on Earth.
The exact worldwide population of the bottlenose dolphin is not known. In the eastern tropical Pacific the population is estimated to be 243,500, while in the waters of Japan the population estimates are as low as 37,000.
In 1990, a program to label tuna cans "Dolphin Safe" (certifying that no dolphins were encircled to catch tuna) began, reducing dolphin deaths in tuna nets by 97 percent. Pressure from foreign trading nations has weakened the standards of the current label.
Bottlenose dolphins often live 30 to 50 years.
Dolphins are social animals well known for their playful and carefree nature. They sometimes hunt in groups and herd schools of fish toward shore for feeding. Social hierarchies have been noted in dolphin interactions.
Bottlenose dolphins typically weigh 440 to 600 pounds and reach an average size of 10 feet (some reach as much as 14 feet).
Dolphins can be found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, though they prefer warm to tropical water.
Dolphins consume 13 to 33 pounds of food per day. They feed on a variety of fish, cephalopods (such as squid and octopus), and other sea life. They use echolocation—
bouncing sound off of objects to determine their location—to hunt and use a series of high-pitched clicks to stun prey.
Dolphins are found in Everglades National Park, FL; Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, FL; Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC; Assateague Island National Seashore, MD/VA; Padre Island National Seashore, TX.