The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is, alongside the Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris), the most common dolphin species that migrates through the waters of the Dutch Caribbean Islands. It is a large dolphin, up to 3 m (~9.8 ft) in length, and has a light to dark grey body and white belly. It gets its common name from its elongated snout. While the Bottlenose Dolphin is not considered to be an endangered species, it is however listed in Appendix II of CITES and is therefore protected from international trade to ensure that it does not become threatened with extinction in the near future.
There have been several initiatives on our islands to monitor the Bottlenose Dolphin population and gather important information about the species. On Bonaire, the Bonaire Coastal Dolphin Project has been surveying dolphins since 2008. Bottlenose Dolphins have been reported as swimming continuously around the island, and feeding on the eastern side. Females with calves are typically spotted between February and May. Females give birth to a single calf, every two to three years.
More recently (2011), the St. Maarten Nature Foundation launched the Marine Mammal Monitoring project, which takes place every year from February to May, and is a wide scale census of all marine mammals found within the territorial waters of St. Maarten/St.Martin. In 2011, the Bottlenose Dolphin was found to be the most common dolphin species and the second most common marine mammal after the Humpback Whale. Nineteen individuals were recorded, many within the newly established Man of War Shoal Marine Park. The 2012 census was re-launched in February, in partnership with the organization Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten so as to increase the public’s awareness of marine mammals and their conservation. If you’d like to find out more information about the project and how to participate by filling out sighting forms, contact the Nature Foundation at email@example.com or via telephone at +5444267.