The bottlenose dolphin (Thursiops truncatus) lives in tropical and temperate seas all around the world. It can be found in coastal zones of continents and oceanic islands, and in pelagic environments even thousands of miles away from the coast.
In the majority of zones studied two ecotypes are present: a pelagic and a coastal form, characterized by different ecological and feeding habits, as well as a different external morphology. The pelagic form lives in deep waters far out at sea, while the coastal form frequents the zone above the continental shelf, also in shallow waters, sometimes visiting lagoons and river mouths.
Due to difficulties of research at open sea, most knowledge relates to the coastal form while the pelagic form is less known. In the Northern Adriatic Sea, which has shallow waters, the bottlenose dolphin is the predominant cetacean species.
In the past other cetaceans, like the common dolphin, shared the Adriatic waters with the bottlenose dolphin, but the environmental degradation occurring during the last decades has brought about a progressive reduction of the species variety. Marine mammals such as the common dolphin and the monk seal have become very rare, but the bottlenose dolphin - a shrewd and opportunistic dolphin - is still able to live and reproduce in the less degraded areas.
In the past the dolphins had a reputation as fish thieves and damagers of nets, and a bounty was rewarded to those who killed them. Today we see them as intelligent and evolved animals that live in complex societies and represent an essential part of the marine ecosystem. To observe them in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience.