Fisheries Infosite

Bottlenose dolphin (BDO)
Maori name
Scientific name
Tursiops truncatus

Bottlenose dolphins are widely distributed throughout the world, generally at latitudes higher than 45°. New Zealand is at the southernmost point of their range. There are three main coastal populations in New Zealand, one in the Bay of Islands area, one in Doubtful Sounds, and another group that range from the Marlborough Sounds to Westport.

Bottlenose dolphins are considered ‘Range restricted’ by the Department of Conservation and is listed as ‘data deficient’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Coastal bottlenose dolphins feed on a variety of inshore bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates. Offshore populations feed on mid-water fish and squid. Individuals are known to work together to herd schools of fish for feeding.

It is thought that bottlenose dolphins occasionally get tangled in inshore setnets and trawl nets and drown.

Bottlenose dolphins were revered as sentient beings by Maori and were called Terehu. There is evidence that they were hunted for food as well, but not as a common activity.

International Union for Conservation of nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red list

New Zealand Threat Classification System list

DOC threat status: 7 Range restricted
IUCN listing: Data Deficient
Average maturity age: 7
Maximum age: 50
Adult survival average: 98
Litter: 1
Reproduction frequency
(per year):
Demographic data source: Reynolds et al. 2000
Population: 1000
Population source: Baker, A. N. (1990): Whales & dolphins of New Zealand and Australia: An identification guide. Victoria Uni Press

5 items
Category Environmental impacts
Effects on other species
Bottlenose, Dusky and Common dolphin entanglements in set nets. details
Effects on other species
Bottlenose, Dusky and Common dolphin accidental capture (inshore trawling). details
Effects on ecosystem
Predator - prey unbalances within an ecosystem details
Effects on other species
Potting (Deepwater crabs) - Occasional whale and dolphin entanglements. details
Effects on other species
Potting (Red rock lobster) occasional whale and dolphin entanglements details