Extensive geographical variation in the genus has led to taxonomic uncertainty (Curry and Smith, 1997). Until recently, the genus Tursiops was monospecific, but the he Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin is recognized as a separate species following Rice (1998). It is known to be taxonomically distinct based on concordance in genetics, osteology, and external morphology (Wang et al. 1999, 2000ab). In most areas where it has been studied at least two allopatric, or in some cases parapatric, forms, designated as coastal and offshore, have been documented. Morphological differences among various populations of Tursiops have yet to be investigated in Papuan waters. The distribution pattern of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin remains very poorly known, largely due to earlier confusion with T. truncates, and the identity surrounding many Tursiops populations in the region. It would appear to occur sympatric with T. truncatus in parts of the Papuan region, and identification may prove challenging. It remains obvious that much further research is needed in order to satisfactorily establish the distribution boundaries between the Tursiops occurring in the region hence we have chosen not get into any depth concerning the present situation involving the two Tursiops species present in Papuan waters.
This species inhabits coastal tropical to warm temperate waters of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. T. aduncus prefers areas with rocky and coral reefs, or sea grass. They can be found over waters 200m deep but are encountered most frequently in waters shallower than 100 m. There is great geographical variety in the species' diet. The primary prey species seem to be benthic and reef-dwelling fish and cephalopods, less than 30 cm in length, of continental shelf waters. Seem to prefer water temperatures of 20-30°C, with a minimum of 12°C (Wang and Yang, 2009). Papua Province: reported to be the more abundant Tursiops species in the Arafura Sea (Rudolph, Smeenk and Leatherwood, 1997); present in the Bintuni Bay (Kahn et. al 2006); present in the Mayalibit Bay as well as in coastal waters off the southern coastline of Waigeo, shallow waters in the W Dampier Strait i.e. between northern Batanta and southern Waigeo as well as of the southern coastline of Misool (Kahn, 2007); Kofiau-Boo Islets where they are reported as abundant by local communities (S. Hogberg pers. obs June 2009); ferry crossings between Sorong-Batanta as well as Salawati-Batanta; one of the most abundant cetacean in the Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay along with S. l. longirostris; one of the most abundant cetaceans in the Bintuni and Triton Bays (Kaimana). Papua New Guinea: Miyazaki & Wada (1978a) observed bottlenose dolphins around the Solomon Islands and New Ireland, and they collected a lactating female off the northwest corner of New Ireland. A group of about 500 bottle-nose dolphins was seen from a tuna seiner north of New Ireland and herds were seen daily during September–October 1983 in the area (Patterson and Alverson, 1986). Dawbin (1972) described bottlenose dolphins as fairly common along the north coast of New Guinea; they definitely occur along the south coast as well; T. aduncus is the most common bottle-nose dolphin present in coastal waters off New Britain and New Ireland (Munday, 1994; Visser, 2002, 2003). In 1999 Delphinids was surveyed in the Kikori river delta on the behalf of WWF, during which it was found to be common offshore as well as in the lower reaches of the Kikori and Omati rivers where it was observed individually, as pairs or in smaller pods (Leary, 2000); abundant off Alotau (Milne Bay Province) as well as during ferry crossings between Alotau-Normanby as well as Normanby-Fergusson (S. Hogberg pers. obs), where it is the most abundant dolphin along with S. l. longirostris.