10 Fascinating Facts About Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins

Liko & Schooner (2)

11330978_627060967428480_1966524532_oHere at the Texas State Aquarium, we have four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Shadow, Kai, Liko, and Schooner. Not only are these highly intelligent marine mammals amazing to watch glide, zip, and spin through the water at Dolphin Bay, they are fascinating in a variety of ways you might not know about! Check out these 10 fascinating facts about Atlantic bottlenose dolphins:

  1. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are named “bottlenose” after their short, stubby rostrums, or beaks. Dolphins use tools such as sponges to protect their rostrum (beak) while foraging on the bottom of the ocean. 
  2. Dolphins can make up to 1,000 clicking noises per second. These sounds travel underwater until they encounter objects, then bounce back to their dolphin senders, revealing details like the location, shape, and size of their target.
  3. Adults eat about 5% of their body weight per DAY.Liko & Schooner (2)
  4. Because they consciously breathe, dolphins have to shut down one hemisphere of their brains in order to stay alive while sleeping. While resting, the other half of the brain monitors what’s going in the environment and controls breathing functions.
  5. Dolphins swallow their food whole, and their stomach has three chambers, which aids their digestion.
  6. Dolphins don’t make any noises with their mouth – they don’t even have vocal cords. All sounds come through the dolphin’s blowhole!
  7. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have between 80 -100 conical teeth.
  8. On average, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin will be 8.5 feet long and 400-500 pounds.
  9. As they are mammals, dolphins are actually born with hair. A baby dolphin (calf) is born with whiskers on its upper jaw (rostrum) that fall out soon after birth.
  10. An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin can, on average, hold its breath for 5 – 7 minutes.Liko




Dolphin myths and legends abound all over the ancient world, including Greece, Rome, China, Micronesia, Australia, and South America. Tradition says dolphins rescued five Christian saints.

Did you know?
As early as 400 B.C., and continuing to present times, countless tales exist of dolphins rescuing sailors and carrying victims to shore.

In 1996, a shark in the Red Sea attacked a man. Three dolphins encircled the man, and kept the attacking shark at bay until the man’s companions reached him. Thankfully, the man fully recovered to tell his tale.



Kai is a male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that was born in October 1994 at the Brookfield Zoo. “Kai” is a Hawaiian word that means “spirit of the sea.” In 2006, Kai weighs over 420 pounds!

A Greek myth tells how a dolphin persuaded the hesitant sea nymph Amphitrite to wed the sea god Poseidon. The dolphin’s reward? To be placed among the stars in the constellation “Delphinus.”

In a different legend, the god Apollo sent a dolphin to rescue a favored musician Arion from drowning. In thanks, Arion placed a dolphin statue in Apollo’s temple. Later, Apollo transported the dolphin statue to the stars, again as “Delphinus”, so humans would honor the helpful dolphin forever.