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built for speed Bottlenose Dolphin

Noongar word - Keela (dolphin)

Hear all about it!

Bottlenose dolphins live all around the world except in the coldest waters. They are very intelligent and social animals and live in groups called pods. There are separate inshore and offshore populations. The pods of inshore dolphins made of 10-50 dolphins. The offshore pods are much bigger and can number several hundred. They communicate with each other by a complicated system of squeaks and whistles and will sometimes interact with humans.

They are very powerful and agile animals. They have a foraging/travelling speed of 5 km/h, a cruising speed of 10 km/h and can sprint at speeds up to 37 km/h. They can often be seen jumping and twisting out of the water or riding waves.

Dolphins breathe air. They surface 2-3 times per minute to breathe through their blowholes. They hold their breath to dive. Inshore dolphins rarely dive for longer than 3-4 minutes, but offshore dolphins dive up to 600 m and hold their breath for 15 minutes. Bottlenose Dolphins sleep for a few minutes at a time on the surface of the water so they can breathe through their blowholes. They can rest one half of their brain while keeping the other half alert to regulate their breathing and sense danger. They alternate which side is active so that both get a rest.

Dolphins search and track prey using echolocation. They make up to make up to 1,000 clicking noises per second to build up a picture. They can hunt on their own but normally feed in groups where they can work together as a team to herd the fish together.

Threats include; pollution, boat traffic, entanglement in fishing nets and debris, intentional fishing, overfishing and stranding.

Where you can find a Bottlenose Dolphin

Conservation Status

The waters around Rottnest Island are a designated Marine Reserve. All cetaceans are protected within the Australian Whale Sanctuary under the EPBC Act. The Sanctuary includes all Commonwealth waters from the three nautical mile State waters limit out to the boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone (out to 200 nm and further in some places). The Bottlenose Dolphin is also subject to International Whaling Commission (IWC) regulations and protected within the Indian Ocean Sanctuary and Southern Ocean Sanctuary.
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concerned

Help protect Rottnest's marine environment

  • Do Not approach pods when boating
  • Do enjoy watching them on their own terms
  • Do take litter with you or use bins provided
  • Do collect fishing line if seen in ocean or on shores

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We're always open to feedback on how we can improve Rottnest Island for our visitors and wildlife!