Pregnancy info on the bottlenose dolphin

As for many mothers-to-be, the late stages of pregnancy can be extremely awkward for dolphins, say scientists. Gliding along beneath the ocean, it might seem that these streamlined marine mammals are unaffected by the slight swell of carrying a baby.
But a study has revealed that the females' top swimming speed is almost halved when they are close to giving birth.
Lead researcher Shawn Noren, from the Institute of Marine Science at the University of California Santa Cruz, US, was originally interested in how baby dolphins learned to swim. But while she was diving with the animals in Hawaii, and filming their behaviour, she became fascinated by how the females coped with the physical demands of pregnancy.
Dr Noren also wanted to know if the animals changed the way they moved in order to compensate for this additional drag.
Tracing the animals' movements, she found that pregnant females reduced the size of the arc through which they swept their tails - the up and down sweeping motion that propels the dolphins through the water.
Dr William Sellers, a zoologist from the UK's University of Manchester, said he was surprised by the magnitude of the cost to dolphins of carrying a baby. He explained that the extra drag meant that the pregnant animals would need twice as much energy to move around.
He added that, in order to develop effective ways to protect dolphins and safeguard their environment, scientists needed an in-depth understanding of their ecology. Steve Bloom Images represents some of the most accomplished photographers of wildlife and tribal culture in Africa and around the world.
GenusTursiops (1)The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is one of the most well-known species of dolphin (2). Dolphins are highly intelligent animals; they have a sophisticated echolocation system and communicate via a range of sounds (9).

Bottlenose dolphin females produce a single calf in the summer after a gestation period of 12 months.
Bottlenose dolphin rangeThe bottlenose dolphin is found in coastal waters of most temperate, tropical and subtropical areas (9). You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway. Bottlenose dolphin habitatA coastal and oceanic species, the bottlenose dolphin occurs in a range of habitats from open water and lagoons to rocky reefs (10).
Bottlenose dolphin statusThe bottlenose dolphin is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3). Bottlenose dolphin threatsThe bottlenose dolphin faces a number of threats including human disturbance, entanglement in fishing nets, and hunting. Bottlenose dolphin conservationThe bottlenose dolphin is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species (5).
There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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She studied these animals for the period from 10 days before they gave birth, until two years after they had given birth to their calves. There appear to be two main varieties; a smaller, inshore form and a larger, more robust form that lives mainly offshore (6).

Around the UK, it occurs in the English Channel, around north-east Scotland and in the Irish Sea, particularly in Cardigan Bay and off south-east Ireland (5). It is protected in UK waters by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Orders 1985; it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or harass any cetacean species in UK waters (5). Every image in this unique specialist collection meets the very highest technical and aesthetic standards and is available for rights managed licensing worldwide. North and Baltic Sea populations, western Mediterranean and Black Sea populations are included in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), and Appendix II of the Bern Convention (4). The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS), has been signed by seven European countries, this includes the UK.
They are usually dark grey on the back with paler grey flanks and a white or pinkish belly (7). The sickle-shaped dorsal fin is tall, and positioned centrally on the back; variations in the shape of the dorsal fin along with scars and other markings on the skin can help researchers to identify individuals (8). In Brazil, this species even hunts cooperatively with humans, driving fish into the nets of local fishers. Under Annex II of the EC Habitats Directive, candidate marine Special Areas of Conservation (SACS) are being set up for this species in Cardigan Bay (Wales) and the Moray Firth (north-east Scotland) (5).
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