Conservation
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Species Profile:

Bottlenose Dolphins

(Tursiops truncatus)

Conservation

TtMom&Baby94001.jpg (28576 bytes)As with all marine mammals within US territorial waters, dolphins are legally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and several other laws. Most other countries have similar protections in place, as well. While entanglements in fishing nets is still a concern in many areas, the primary threat to these (and many other wild animals) is the destruction of habitat and loss of available food. To really protect dolphins in the wild we must protect their natural habitats. Today, most bottlenose dolphin populations appear to be healthy and are not endangered. Some other species of cetaceans, however, are not so fortunate. The Gulf of California harbor porpoise or vaquita (Phocoena sinus) and the Chinese river dolphin or baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) are examples of two highly endangered cetacean species.

As we mentioned earlier, bottlenose dolphins are naturally curious and playful animals. In the wild, these endearing aspects of their behavior can lead to very dangerous consequences. Some near shore populations, such as those that live in the bays and inlets around the state of Florida, are being harassed by people trying to feed and interact with the dolphins. Not only is this activity illegal but it can cause severe injury and even death to the animals. Many dolphins have suffered deep cuts from boat propellers, illness from ingestion of foreign objects and unnatural or poor quality food, and loss of natural foraging behavior. For more information about this very serious subject and how you can help, check out the Mote Marine Lab's website.

The marine mammal display community has had a long history of commitment to research and conservation. Much of the knowledge required to successfully manage and protect wild populations has been gained as a direct result of cooperation between the display and scientific communities. By working directly with non-endangered species such as bottlenose dolphins, we are able to develop the information, skills and technologies needed to preserve their endangered relatives in the wild.

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Revised: August 27, 2011.