|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the most common and well-known dolphin species. It inhabits warm and temperate seas worldwide and may be found in all but the Arctic and the Antarctic Oceans.|
Bottlenose Dolphins are grey, varying from dark grey at the top near the dorsal fin to very light grey and almost white at the underside. This makes them harder to see both from above and below when swimming. The elongated upper and lower jaws form what is called the rostrum and give the animals their name of bottlenose. The real nose however is the blowhole on top of the head, and the nasal septum is visible when the blowhole is open. Their face shows a characteristic "smile".
Bottlenose Dolphins typically swim at a speed of 5-11 km per hour (3-6 miles per hour); for short times, they can reach peak speeds of 35 km per hour (21 mph).
Their diet consists mainly of small fish, occasionally also squid, crabs, octopus, and other similar animals. Their peg-like teeth serve to grasp but not to chew food. When a shoal of fish has been found, the animals work as a team to keep the fish close together and maximize the harvest. They also search for fish alone, often bottom dwelling species. Sometimes they will employ "fish whacking" whereby a fish is stunned (and sometimes thrown out of the water) with the fluke to make catching and eating the fish easier.
Courtship behavior of the male includes clinging along to that female, posing for the female, stroking, rubbing, nuzzling, mouthing, jaw clapping, and yelping. Copulation is preceded by lengthy foreplay; then the two animals arrange belly to belly, the penis extends out of its slit and is inserted into the vagina. The act lasts only 10-30 seconds, but is repeated numerous times, with several minutes break in between.
The gestation period is 12 months. The young are born in shallow water, sometimes assisted by a "midwife" (which may be male). A single calf is born, about 1 meter (3 feet) long at birth.
To speed up the nursing process, the mother can eject milk from her mammary glands. There are two slits, one on either side of the genital slit, each housing one nipple. The calf is nursed for 12 to 18 months.
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