Q:

Are bottlenose dolphins endangered?

A:

Quick Answer

While bottlenose dolphins are not categorized as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they are undoubtedly at risk from the commercial fishing industry and habitat destruction. While conservation efforts have helped dolphin populations to avoid nearly certain extinction, this trend could change if humans do not remain vigilant about protecting these marine mammals. Currently, scientists estimate that there are tens of thousands of bottlenose dolphins.

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Full Answer

While it is illegal to target bottlenose dolphins, many ships end up inadvertently killing them with their nets. Dolphins are frequently caught in commercial fishing nets, causing them to become entangled and drown as they are unable to reach the surface for a breath. The increased amount of boat traffic in the areas frequented by bottlenose dolphins also represents a threat, as the boats may strike and kill the dolphins.

Habitat destruction occurs in many forms, but all present problems for dolphins. Chemicals that are pumped into the ocean may sicken dolphins or their prey, while floating debris may be mistaken for food and swallowed with disastrous consequences. Additionally, global warming may affect the dolphin populations as the temperature of the ocean rises.

Dolphins are very important components of marine ecosystems, and if they were to disappear, the entire food chain would suffer. Dolphins primarily prey on small fish and squid, but they will consume other prey from time to time.

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