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elephant seal pup Horseshoe
two bottlenose dolphins seen from above

New Record of California Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins in Offshore Waters

  • Natural history


California coastal bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) comprise a distinct ecotype that typically inhabits waters < 1 km from shore and about 10 to 30 m deep, often to the surf zone (Defran & Weller, 1999; Defran et al., 1999; Bearzi et al., 2009; Perrin et al., 2011). An offshore bottlenose dolphin ecotype is found in deeper waters of California, usually more than a few kilometers from shore to well beyond the continental shelf edge (Defran & Weller, 1999; Bearzi et al., 2009; Perrin et al., 2011; Lowther-Thieleking et al., 2014). The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages these ecotypes as separate stocks (Carretta et al., 2017), differentiated by cranial morphology, diet, parasite load (Walker, 1981; Perrin et al., 2011), and genetics (LowtherThieleking et al., 2014). The two forms, however, cannot be reliably identified in the field based on external appearance (Walker, 1981; Leatherwood et al., 1982).

Webber, M.A., Keener, W., Spears, A.C., Cotter, M.P., Lane, R.S., Payne, A.R. and Markowitz, T.M., 2023. New Record of California Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Offshore Waters. Aquatic Mammals, 49(3), pp.241-247.


natural history
Tim Markowitz
Marc Webber
Bekah Lane
Bill Keener
bottlenose dolphins, geographic range, Farallon Island, California coastal dolphins

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