There is no doubt that dolphins are one of the most exciting animals in the ocean. They are easy to recognize and you likely know that they are very smart.
There is a lot of information that anyone interested in these animals should appreciate. There are plenty of great facts about them that you will learn when you get done reading this! Some are basic, others entertaining and many are simply amazing.
1. Dolphins are odontocete cetaceans. The order Cetacea includes a group of mammals fully adapted to life in the ocean, and the suborder Odontoceti includes those with teeth.
2. The closest relatives of dolphins are whales and porpoises. All are members of the order Cetacea.
3. Dolphins are mammals; warm-blooded animals which give birth to live offspring and feed them with breast milk from the mother.
4. They do not have hair on the skin. Only a small accumulation of thin hair near the spiracle and in some other places. Only the Boto, Amazon River Dolphin, has a small amount of hair that they keep as an adult.
5. Dolphins are the only mammals that give birth to its offspring delivering the tail first instead of the head.
6. Like whales, manatees, seals, walruses and porpoises, they are mammals that live permanently in an aquatic environment.
7. Apparently, dolphins sleep resting one side of the brain at a time.
Thanks to its bone structure and its ability to hold air in the lungs for a long time, dolphins can rest underwater. However, they need to breathe regularly. Therefore, some degree of awareness is necessary, and one side of the brain remain active, while the other part rests.
8. Dolphins can communicate with each other by emitting a variety of sounds.
9. Dolphins do not have a good sense of smell.
10. Dolphins can swim at a speed of up to 25 miles per hour for a long time; This is about three times faster than the fastest humans in the world.
11. Dolphins inhabit all seas of the world.
12. Most species live in salt water, but some dwell in fresh or brackish waters.
13. All dolphins are carnivores.
14. There are about 100 teeth in the mouth of a dolphin, but the amount varies among species. However, they use the teeth to grab their prey, but they don’t chew it. All food is swallowed whole.
15. Dolphins can hear a frequency range ten times broader than that of a human being.
16. Dolphins are mostly larger than porpoises. However, some species of dolphins are the smallest cetaceans.
17. Mothers breastfeed calves for 2 or 3 years.
18. The lower limbs of dolphins are vestigial legs because millions of years ago they could walk on land.
19. There are about 43 species of dolphins. But the number keeps changing because of new discoveries and new taxonomic classifications.
20. There have been cases of attacks on humans, but they are very rare. Even though dolphins are usually very mild tempered, they can be aggressive.
21. At birth, calves weigh approximately 10 kilos and measure around one meter. This weight increases up to 7 times during the first year of life.
22. Many individuals have been seen making jumps in front of the ships and following the bow waves.
23. The teeth of dolphins work as a kind of antenna to pick up the sounds bounced back during echolocation.
24. Dolphins enjoy socializing and playing. They have been seen playing with small objects and with other dolphins. They play with seaweed or with other members of the pod. Sometimes, they will tease other living creatures in the water.
25. They are social animals and can live in groups called pods that can have hundreds of members or even join with other groups creating superpods with thousands of individuals.
26. The favorite foods of many species of dolphins are fish, octopus, and squid.
27. The gestation period in most species lasts between 10 and 12 months.
28. The Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) is the largest dolphin. It can measure up to 30 feet in length.
29. Dolphins detect prey and objects using their echolocation, that is, by interpreting the echo of sound waves bounced back by the target.
30. They have very delicate skin, which can easily be injured.
31. Dolphins have an organ called melon in the head that emits the sound waves used for echolocation.
32. The dolphin’s brain is similar in size to that of humans.
Their brains are 4-5 times larger than those of other animals of similar size.
33. Dolphins can recognize themselves in the mirrors which mean that they are self-aware, an indicator of intelligence.
34. Dolphins’ eyes can move separately from each other.
35. Bycatch is one of the main threats to the survival of dolphins.
36. Their main natural predators are sharks and ironically, orcas.
37. The Amazon River Dolphin or Boto is the largest dolphin that dwells in freshwater. They can be up to 10 feet long.
38. The Amazon river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) can swim backward. So far, researchers unknown the exact reason for this behavior, but it is presumed to be related to searching food.
39. Dolphins have two stomachs just like cows. The first one stores the food and the second is where digestion takes place.
40. Some dolphin species can submerge up to 1,000 feet.
41. The dorsal fin on each dolphin is unique, and it can be used to identify them from each other.
42. The average lifespan of dolphins is around 17 years. However, some species in the wild live about 50 years.
43. Some dolphins need to breathe every 20 seconds, but others need to do it every 30 minutes.
44. The bonds between the members of a pod are very tight. They have been observed helping sick, elderly, and injured peers.
45. Dolphins can see well in the water due to the way their retina collects the light.
46. The brain of dolphins is the second largest ratio between size compared to its body size; only behind humans.
47. It is possible for a mature dolphin to eat up to 30 pounds of fish per day.
48. Some dolphins can leap up to twenty feet in the air.
49. Dolphins often use a hunting technique consisting in surrounding a school of fish, so they make a tight group. Then they will take turns going through the center of the accumulation to feed.
50. Global warming continues to be a problem for dolphins as it has reduced their food supply significantly.
51. Dolphins can migrate looking for food and reach parts of the ocean where the temperatures are right for them. Not all species of dolphins migrate.
52. Dolphins perform several feeding strategies to capture prey. Most involve cooperation among the pod members.
53. The smallest dolphins are about 4 feet long with the longest being 30 feet long. They can weigh from 90 pounds to more than 11 tons.
54. The flukes are the two parts of the tail of a dolphin.
55. All dolphins have a blowhole at the top where they breathe.
56. Dolphins have a great healing process even when they have deep wounds such as those that are the result of shark bites. Experts haven’t been able to determine how this is possible for dolphins when other mammals would die from a hemorrhage.