The dolphin is a marine mammal that it is easily recognized by it long snout, curved body and fluke. The dolphin is related to both the whale and the porpoise and these animals share many similar features. There are close to forty species of dolphins throughout the oceans and rivers of the world today. They prefer to live in the shallower water and hunt for fish, squid and other small crustaceans. Dolphins are a very popular animal with humans due to their intelligence and friendly nature.
Interesting facts about dolphins
- Most dolphins have a life expectancy of between 40 and 50 years.
- Despite their name the killer whale (orca) is actually a species of dolphin. There are also five other whales that are actually dolphins these are the melon-headed whale, the pygmy killer whale, the false killer whale, the long-finned pilot whale and the short-finned pilot whale.
- Dolphin comes from a Greek word which means “fish with a womb”
- The bottlenose Dolphin is the most common and most often seen of the dolphin species.
- Not all dolphins are found in the ocean, four species of dolphin live in freshwater rivers. These are the Boto or Amazon River dolphin, South Asian river dolphin, Ganges river dolphin and the Indus river dolphin. These species are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and pollution.
- The different dolphin species are able to mate and bear offspring resulting in numerous hybrids in the wild and in captivity.
- Not all species of dolphin have a dorsal fin some only have a small hump where a dorsal fin usually is.
- Dolphins navigate by sending out high frequency clicks and squeals and processing the returning sound waves when they bounce back off objects. These clicks are one of the loudest sounds made by marine animals.
- Dolphins can hear frequencies at least ten times higher than those hear by humans. The dolphin uses its lower jaw to hear through a cavity connected to the middle ear.
- Dolphins breathe through a blowhole on the top of their heads and are able to stay underwater for up to 30 minutes. However, they usually surface to breathe every 6- 8 minutes.
- Unlike many other mammals they do not have hair and instead have smooth skin with a thick layer of blubber underneath.
- Dolphins have the ability to heal very quickly and are able to recover from serious injury such as a shark bite. The wound will heal in such a way that it maintains the body shape of the dolphin.
- Most species have excellent eyesight, although some species which are totally blind. They also have an acute sense of taste, but no sense of smell as they have no olfactory nerves.
- Dolphins live in pods of up to 12 or more individuals and show care for those within the pod.
- Dolphins have been seen to assist other living creatures such as guiding lost whales and protecting humans from shark attack.
- Dolphins are able to learn cultural behaviors and long term observation has discovered that some dolphins use tools. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins use sponges to protect their mouths while foraging for food. This skill is passed down from mother to daughter. The river dolphins in Brazil use sticks and weeds as part of a mating display.
- The baby dolphin is born tail first and is nursed by the mother. Male dolphins are called bulls, female dolphins and cows and baby dolphins are called calves.
- Dolphins use both herding and corralling to capture their prey. They often work as a team to ensure that everyone is able to get enough to eat.
- Groups of Dolphins in Laguna, Santa Catarina and Brazil engage in cooperative fishing with humans. They drive the fish towards the fishermen’s nets and signal the fishermen to contract the nets. The dolphins then feed on the fish that escape.
- They enjoy playing and have been studied playing with seaweed, play-fighting with each other, harassing other sea animals and blowing and manipulating bubble rings.
- When sleeping only one side of the Dolphins brains enters sleep patterns at any one time. This allows the dolphin to stay on alert for predators and keep the blowhole above water to breathe.
- In some countries around the world, such as Japan and Peru, dolphin meat is eaten as a delicacy. It is very dark in color due to the high blood content.
- The US and other countries have made use of dolphins as part of military operations.