It’s easy to find fun facts about dolphins. These are some of the most playful creatures in the oceans. When most people hear the word dolphin, they think of bottlenose dolphins. These are the animals used in iconic dolphin films such as Flipper. This is also the most common type of dolphin, but far from the only one. There are close to 40 different species of dolphins that roam our oceans and rivers.
Sometimes an animals name can be misleading, like the Killer Whale. The Killer Whale is not actually a whale, but a species of dolphin. This species is in fact the largest of all the dolphins and can grow to 26 feet long and weigh up to 6 tons. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the smallest of the dolphin species, the Hector or Maui’s Dolphin. It only grows to 5 ½ feet and weighs just over 100 pounds. The bottlenose dolphin falls somewhere in the middle, and can grow to 13 feet long and weigh 1,400 pounds. The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 20 years, but some have been found as old as 48.
Dolphins live in the harsh environment of the open oceans where they have adapted accordingly. One of the unusual ways they have evolved is to go without sleep for extended periods of time. They have been known to swim for up to 5 days without rest. Not all dolphins live in the ocean. There are also a few species that live in fresh water, all of which are endangered. Yet some can still be found in the wild areas of Asia and South America.
The dolphins are a carnivorous species, which means they are meat-eaters. They have round teeth that they use for catching and tearing their prey. Because they do not have jaw muscles, they swallow their prey whole or in chunks. Just like whales and other sea mammals, dolphins do not drink seawater. They absorb moisture through the food they eat.
The dolphin’s brain is another fascinating aspect. Scientists consider the more folds a species brain has, the greater its intelligence. A dolphin brain has more folds than a human one. Some dolphins have been taught to respond to 60 different words and over 2,000 sentences. They are also considered to be self-aware, which means they have the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals.
Even though dolphins live in the ocean, they still near air to breathe and can drown in too much water gets in their lungs. Dolphins can drown if just 1 tablespoon of water gets in their lungs. By comparison, a human will drown if 2 tablespoons of water get into their lungs. Though we both need to breathe, dolphins do it quite differently. They exhale through a blowhole on top of their heads. The air expelled thru this hole can reach speeds up to 100 mph. They usually breathe 2 to 3 times a minute, but can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes. When diving deep, the dolphin collapses its ribcage. The air is transferred to air pockets near the blowhole. This is a protective measure against the pressure water exerts at great depth. It also prevents dolphins from getting the bends, a condition one gets from surfacing too quickly from deep water, and can be deadly.
The dolphin is not a fish, but one of the many mammals that live in our oceans. They are curious creatures and bring joy to people, whether it be a scientist studying their fascinating abilities, or a fisherman watching them surface next to his boat. Their curiousness and playfulness are some of their most endearing attributes and why many people consider them to be man’s best friend of the sea.