Tursiops truncate are sexually active in March and April. Males, called bulls, fight over females, called cows, during this breeding season. After a male shows a preference for a female he remains with her for long periods of time. Male poise in front of her and rubs and nuzzles her. Offspring are born in midsummer in European waters and in February to May off the coast of Florida. Gestation lasts 12 months and lactation lasts 12-18 months.
Calves are 1/3 as long as its mother. They are born underwater and swim up to the surface for its first breath. Mothers and calves have close body contact which continues until the mother becomes pregnant again or milk ceases to flow.
Females with calves and older youngsters are under leadership of a single adult male. There is a social hierarchy among bottlenose dolphins. They fight for rank by butting heads and snapping their jaws. It is usually harmless but some result in severe bit wounds. Males’ are superior to females.
People have many uses and interaction with Tursiops truncate. People use to hunt bottlenose dolphins for meat and oil. Now dolphins are often killed in fishing nets. The interaction between dolphins and humans are not all negative. Sailors use to regard the presence of dolphins near ships as a sign of a smooth voyage. Since the mid 1900’s dolphins have been trained to perform in shows. They jump through hoops, throw balls, and many other stunts. Some can leap 15-20 feet out of the water. Scientist’s research Tursiops truncate for many reasons. Bottlenose dolphins’ echolocation and communications systems as well as diving ability are among them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Samantha Schemberger