Our Latest News

Horsetail Falls walk now open


Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens


The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Maintaining vigilance with campfires


Parks and Wildlife Service staff have thanked the many campers who have heeded the restrictions placed on campfires and pot fires, but ask that park and reserve visitors continue to take care while the fire risk remains high in certain areas of the State.More

Bottle-nosed Dolphin

Bottle-nosed DolphinsĀ (Photograph by Angela Anderson)
Bottle-nosed Dolphins are generally between 2-3m in length and weigh up to 300kg with males being larger. There have been records of them reaching nearly 4m and 500kg. Size differences can occur between coastal and offshore varieties. They are generally dark grey above and paler grey below which can extend up the flanks. Some have a small white blaze near the tail and a sickle-shaped dorsal fin. Their beak (rostrum) is short and they have a well-defined melon. They occur in Australian coastal waters as well as offshore and can be in small groups of up to 10 or very large aggregates of up to 10 000 in open ocean. They are often spotted with other whale and dolphin species including Southern Right, Humpback, Pilot and False Killer whales.

General Information

Bottle-nosed Dolphins are highly promiscuous and have been recorded breeding with other dolphins and whales making their taxonomy a bit confusing at times as there are hybrids of the two subspecies of bottle-nosed dolphins in Australia. They live in fission/fusion groups which join up and split off into smaller groups. The most stable groups appear to be same sex groups particularly of males or those of mother and calf. Newborns are around 1.3m at birth and nurse for up to 2 years or longer. By around 12 years of age they are sexually mature and can live up to 50 years in age. They are very hydrodynamic and prefer to travel in company. They actively hunt fish and squid in both coastal and offshore areas and are quite capable of doing this as both individuals or as a co-operative group hunt.

Stranding Information

Sightings and Strandings Distribution MapĀ (Click to enlarge)
Bottle-nosed Dolphins are very familiar with coastlines but can get caught out by swift tidal changes or trapped by sandbars. About one fifth of Bottle-nosed Dolphin strandings in Tasmania are mass strandings with an average of 10 animals involved. Due to their relatively small size they are easily managed at a stranding and can be refloated at that locality or moved to a safer option on trailers if required. They are the second most common dolphin species to strand in Tasmania. In several cases they have stranded with Pilot Whales including at Freycinet, King Island, Flinders Island Maria Island and on the west coast. When this occurs, free-swimming dolphins are encouraged to leave before the Pilot Whale pod is refloated. Some strandings of dolphins may have occurred due to the vicinity of Orcas so this should be checked out before attempting a release.