Dolphins in Canaveral National Seashore

What Dolphins Are In Canaveral National Seashore?

Common Bottlenose Dolphins

The common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) AKA Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is the popular marine mammal most guests have the excitement of seeing in the Park and Lagoon. The dolphins are 6ft to 12ft long,  weigh 300lbs to 1400lbs, and can live over 50 years old.

 The common bottlenose dolphins in the Park are often mistaken for porpoises, which are rare south of North Carolina, or other dolphins that are found offshore in the Atlantic ocean. are 6ft to 12ft long and weigh 300lbs to 1400lbs and can live over 50 years old.

How Many Dolphins Live In Canaveral National Seashore?

Canaveral National Seashore is home to a resident population of 200-800 common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) that spend their entire lives in the Mosquito Lagoon. While many more come and go from the ocean, there’s always a few hundred that call the Park home.

Dolphin Surfacing At Sunset
Three Dolphins at Sunset in Canaveral National Seashore by the mangroves.

What Do The Bottlenose Dolphins Eat?

These common bottlenose dolphins are social marine mammals can usually be found in small groups traveling, hunting, or playing. While the dolphins eat over 45 species of fish, they mostly consume pinfish, pigfish, and striped mullet. It’s believed the common bottlenose dolphin uses echolocation AKA sonar (sound waves) to locate the fish they are hunting. 

You can find the dolphins feeding by stunning fish with their tails, gathering them into schools in open water or against the shore, then taking turns feeding on the gathered fish. These natural problem solvers can also be found, to the frustration of local anglers, stealing bait from fishing lines and crab traps too.

Viewing Wild Dolphins

Boating, sailing, kayaking, and viewing platforms from land are all great ways to see wild dolphins. These activities are safe for dolphins with best practices and allow people to view them, sometimes from up close as the dolphins swim nearby. Remember to Leave No Trace and let the dolphins stay wild!

Canaveral National Seashore

Where to See Wild Dolphins?

Just north of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center along the Atlantic Ocean, Canaveral National Seashore and the Mosquito Lagoon have hundreds of dolphins that spend their entire lives in the lagoon. 

The Seashore’s pristine water’s hold the prestigious designation for Outstanding Florida Waters.

Wild Dolphins can be viewed all around coastal Florida but not every area has groups of dolphins around all year. In many places the dolphins come and go with the migrating schools of fish.

Man Kayaking With Dolphins at Sunset

Kayaking With Wild Dolphins

If you want to see the wild dolphins from the water, a guided tour can be booked with Viking EcoTours or canoes can be rented with the National Park Service at the Apollo Beach Visitors Center. 

See Dolphins From Land

There are several viewing platforms, docks, and beaches around Canaveral National Seashore where you can watch wild dolphins swimming, playing, and feeding. 

Dolphin Surfacing At Sunset

Watch Dolphins From Land

The viewing platforms and docks at the Apollo Beach Visitor Center and The Eldora State House are all excellent places to see wild dolphins swim, fish, and play.

Can You Feed Or Swim With The Wild Dolphins?

Nope! It's Illegal & Dangerous

No, swimming and playing with wild dolphins is dangerous and illegal. Trying to feed wild dolphins is illegal and harmful to the dolphins as well. The wild dolphins are known to become aggressive when they are fed by humans and when defending themselves or their territories. It is important to be respectful and ethical when outdoors to keep animals and visitors safe.

NOAA Fisheries Service warns that disrupting the dolphins normal behavior and activities from feeding and swimming may cause habituated behaviors that are passed on to calves and other dolphins. These behaviors increase their risk of injury from boats, increase the incidents of entanglement in fishing gear to the point of being a nuisance to anglers, and increase the risk of aggressive behaviors with humans. This is comparable to trash bears (nuisance bears) or other habituated wildlife that ultimately create negative impacts for both humans and wildlife.

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