Bottlenose Dolphins

What Dolphins Are In Canaveral National Seashore?

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

The common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) A.K.A. Atlantic bottlenose dolphin is the popular marine mammal most people remember from TV and Movies. They are one of the most popular animals tourists and locals see while boating or kayaking in Canaveral National Seashore and Mosquito Lagoon

The common bottlenose dolphins in the Canaveral National Seashore are often mistaken for porpoises, which are rare south of North Carolina. There are other dolphin species that are found offshore in the Atlantic ocean but these are rarely seen in the Lagoon. Bottlenose dolphins are usually 6ft to 12ft long, weigh 300lbs to 1400lbs, and can live over 50 years old.

How Many Dolphins Live In Canaveral National Seashore & Mosquito Lagoon?

Canaveral National Seashore is home to a resident population of 200-800 common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). These dolphins spend their entire lives in the Mosquito Lagoon and Canaveral National Seashore. While many more dolphins come and go from the ocean, there’s always a few hundred that are home in this National Park. Kayaking or boating is easiest way to see bottlenose dolphins swimming in the Mosquito Lagoon.

Bottlenose dolphin underwater in Canaveral National Seashore during a guided kayak tour. Bottlenose Dolphins are a favorite sighting for guides and guests with Viking EcoTours.
Bottlenose Dolphin surfacing to breath in Canaveral National Seashore. These bottlenose dolphins are a frequent sighting on our guided morning kayak tours.

What Do Bottlenose Dolphins Eat?

These common bottlenose dolphins are social marine mammals and are usually found traveling, hunting, or playing in small groups. 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 see 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 in the Mosquito Lagoon

Boating, sailing, and kayaking are great ways to see wild dolphins. These activities are safe for dolphins with 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?

Canaveral National Seashore is a National Park that includes the Mosquito Lagoon and has hundreds of dolphins that spend their entire lives in the National Park. Canaveral National Seashore is just north of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center along the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Seashore’s pristine water’s hold the prestigious Outstanding Florida Waters designation and is popular for kayaking, boating, fishing, and camping.

Wild dolphins can be seen all over coastal Florida but not every area has dolphins that spend their entire lives in the area. In many places, the dolphins come and go with the migrating schools of fish. Some of the most popular ways to see wild dolphins include kayaking, boating, or relaxing on the beach.

Bottlenose dolphin swimming in the clear waters of Canaveral National Seashore.

Kayaking With Wild Dolphins in Canaveral National Seashore

If you want to see the wild dolphins from the water, kayaking on 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, kayaking launches, and beaches around Canaveral National Seashore where you can watch wild dolphins swimming, playing, and feeding. 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.

Dolphin Surfacing At Sunset near mangroves during guided kayak tour in Canaveral National Seashore

Can You Feed Or Swim With The Wild Dolphins?

Nope! It's Illegal & Dangerous

Nope, swimming and playing with wild dolphins is dangerous and illegal. Trying to feed wild dolphins is illegal and harmful to the them as well. They 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. 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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