What Are the Migration Habits of Dolphins?


Quick Answer

Dolphins tend to migrate seasonally, although researchers haven't been able to identify a definite pattern as of 2015. They tend to move relatively short distances and in small groups.

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Full Answer

Dolphins prefer warmer and tropical climates, although they can be found in colder waters. Most dolphins prefer shallower waters near the coastline, while others live further out at sea. Coastal dolphins are more limited in their travel range, preferring to stay close to the shore. Most dolphins are more likely to migrate during seasonal changes than to follow the seasonal migration of their prey.

Since dolphins' homes tend to change frequently and overlap with those of other dolphins, it's difficult to study their behavior closely. Dolphins may be year-round residents, or they may be seasonal or transient. Some dolphins may have permanent homes with intermittent periods of migration. Some groups of dolphins stay in one place for decades, while others may move every couple of years. Dolphins are often studied in Sarasota, Florida, due to their year-round residency pattern.

Bottlenose dolphins have a broader range than others, living in coastal and offshore locations around the world. They may take up residence in bays, sounds, estuaries or along the oceanfront. Bottlenose dolphins can be found along the U.S. Atlantic coast, from New Jersey down to Florida and throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

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