Of the three species that populate oceans around the world, the Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncates) is the most likely to be observed along the shores of Costa Rica.
The Common Bottlenose Dolphin moves in different groupings known as pods. Some pods stay inland, and other groups are offshore. They both tend to stay in tropical and temperate waters. They inhabit the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones of the ocean, and can be found at river mouths, estuaries, bays and gulfs. They can be spotted at Marino Ballena National Park, Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Drake Bay, Golfo Dulce and the Papagayo Gulf on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
Mating & Reproduction
Depending on the location, female Bottlenose Dolphins can become sexually mature between the ages of 5 to 13 years old, and males mature by the ages of 10 to 15 years old. Bottlenose Dolphins will keep multiple mates throughout the breeding season which differs based on location. They engage in courtship rituals by butting heads and scrathing eachother with their teeth.
Female Bottlenose Dolphins regularly have one calf, and the calf is born in shallow water with the aid of a midwife at times. The calf will be between .8 and 1.4 meters in length and weigh between 9 and 30 kg.
Common Bottlenose Dolphins that live offshore are larger and migrate as many as 4,200 kilometers annually. They migrate according to the El Niño effect on ocean currents. Bottlenose Dolphins eat fish, squid and shrimp that they forage for in their pods in both inland waters and offshore. They use a corralling method to group schools of fish such as herrings, cods and anchovies among many more.
Bottlenose Dolphins are considered one of the most intelligent animal species on the planet with a brain to body mass that exceeds humans and other animals considered to be of higher intelligence. Scientists have a theory that animal intelligence is based on the number of cortical neurons, and bottlenose dolphins have nearly 6 billion cortical neurons.
The evolution of Bottlenose Dolphins and Humpback whales is interesting in that their closest known relative from the beginning of the Eocene era fifty-five million years ago was not from the sea. This animal was actually a land based mammal that began living along the shore, and over years of development it changed into what is now dolphins and whales.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Marino Ballena National Park, Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Drake Bay, Golfo Dulce, the Papagayo Gulf
Diet: fish, squid, shrimp
Migration Pattern: up to 4,200 km in response to El Niño
Habitat: epipelagic and mesopelagic zones, river mouths, estuaries, bays, gulfs
Size: length=2-4 meters weight=150-650 kg
Species: Tursiops truncates