Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins


Bottlenose dolphins live in the ocean all around Folly Beach and in our surrounding rivers. It’s not unusua lto see them frolicking about – especially if the waters are calm. When you’re out in a boat, please be careful not to come too close to them with your engine.

The Atlantic bottlenose dolphins grow to be at most 12 feet long, sometimes weighing more than 1,400 pounds. But most are smaller than this. They are hunters that fish most often at the surface of the water, eating mostly fish and squid.


bottlenosejumpBottlenose dolphins live in small pods of up to 12 members; they are very social animals. Often, many pods group together to form congregations of hundreds of dolphins. Some sharks will prey upon dolphins and dolphins can also be trapped in fishing nets or injured by boat motors.

dolphinpodDolphins can dive down to more than 1,000 feet and can jump up to 20 feet out of the water. A bow rider is a dolphin that hitches a ride in the bow wave in front of a ship. The dolphin surfs using the pressure created in front of a moving ship. They are very fastswimmers. Some can swim at speeds up to 35mph. It’s no wonder they can keep up with speeding boats!

Here are some interesting dolphin facts:

  • Dolphins tend to live for abouttwenty years, but some have been known to live as much as forty years.
  • When dolphins sleep, they sleep in asemi-alert state by resting one side of their brain at a time.
  • If need be, dolphins can hold their breath for 5-8 minutes at a time. But they usually come up for air about every 2 minutes.
  • Dolphins can dive as deep as 1000 feet.
  • A dolphin sheds its outer layer ofskin every two hours.
  • Dolphins will help sick or injured dolphins as much as they can.
  • Dolphins work as a team if danger is nearby.
  • Every dolphin has its own signature whistle to distinguish itself from its companions.


Dolphins do not have the best eyesight but they do rely on echolocation to navigate, find food and communicate. Echolocation is a technique that dolphins use to “see” what’s ahead of themby the use of sounds. These sounds, or clicks, are produced by a mechanism just below their blowhole and are emitted at a rate of about 300 sounds a second. When these sound waves hit an object, the echo bounces back and the dolphin then knows that something lies ahead. The signature whistles, or squeals, that are used by dolphins are for communicatio nand as a way of indicating their emotional states.

dolphinfin-1The Bottlenose dolphin has up to 26 teeth on each side of its jaws – upper and lower – that’s a possible total of 104 teeth! The numerous teeth are what make their “beaks” protrude so far forward. The previously mentioned beak is not the dolphin’s nose, as many think. They actually breathe by just surfacing and using their blowholes, as opposed to sticking their wholehead out of the water. You could say that blowholes are the equivalent of the human nostrils. The first thing a newborn dolphin must do is to go to the surface to breathe. But the newborn can not swim so its mother and another dolphin will help push it to thesurface for its first breath of air. The newborn is a quick learner though, as it will beable to swim in about 30 minutes!


We hope you enjoy your dolphin-watching here on Folly Beach !