Age when attaining sexual maturity is variable among bottlenose dolphins. On average, females become sexually mature when they reach about 2.3 m (7.5 ft.), at about 5 to 12 years. Males become sexually mature when they reach about 2.4 to 2.6 m (8-8.5 ft.), at about 1 0 to 12 years (Mead and Potter, 1990; Odell, 1975).
1. Females seem to be sexually receptive during a large part of the year and are generally responsible for initiating courtship and breeding behavior.
2. Bottlenose dolphins may breed throughout the year. However, certain breeding seasons have been observed and vary with location. Breeding seasons generally coincide with calving seasons (Schroeder, 1990; Hansen, 1990; Odell, 1975). See Birth seasons and intervals.
3. Just before mating, a male rubs and nuzzles a female. he may also exhibit an "S-curve" posture, in which he lifts his head up and points his tail flukes down (Shane, et al., 1986; Herman, 1980).
Birth and Care of Young
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