In today’s blog, RSPB Scotland’s Ian McNab shares five facts about bottlenose dolphins.

Bottlenose dolphins can be seen at various points along Scotland’s coastline, most prominently around Aberdeen and the Moray Firth. While they are here all year round, the calmer seas of spring and summer make this the best time to see them. So grab your binoculars and let's head to the seaside.

Two bottlenose dolphins breach from the water's surface while another fin is visible close by.

Five facts about bottlenose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are incredibly intelligent. Along with apes and humans, they’re one of the few animals that can recognise themselves in a mirror.

  • They can also be rather talkative, communicating with different whistles and clicks. Individual dolphins can even identify themselves with a signature whistle, not unlike how we all have names.

Have you ever heard the term ‘sleep with one eye open’? Well bottlenose dolphins do just that. They need to keep half their brain active so they don’t forget to breathe.

The bottlenose dolphins found in Scotland are bigger than their counterparts anywhere else in the world. Weighing around 500kg, they need the extra mass to survive in our cold waters.

Watching a bottlenose dolphin jump or ‘breach’ out of the water is an amazing sight. They’re so athletic they can actually leap almost 5m from the water’s surface.

 The dolphinwatch team show off their artwork and displays with the harbour in the background.

From 2013 – 2021, we ran our Dolphinwatch community project at Torry Battery in Aberdeen, where over 30,000 people joined us in celebrating these amazing animals. You can find out more on the RSPB Scotland website.