Dolphins are aquatic mammals.
Dolphins are in fact whales, and some whales
are in fact dolphins. Dolphins belong to the class
of whales, called Odontoceti which actually means
"toothed whales". As the name suggest
this species of whales have teeth and are predators,
unlike the baleen whales that eat plankton. Within
the group of toothed whales is the family called
Delphinidae or oceanic dolphins. Some species
that are commonly referred to as whales like the
Orca (Killer Whale) or Pilot Whale are members
of the Delphinidae family and are classified as
Size: Dolphins come in a variety of shapes and
sizes. They can be as small as 4 feet long to 30 feet
long (orca whales).
Habitat: Dolphins can be found in all oceans
and fresh water dolphins can be found in some of the
world's largest rivers.
Diet: Dolphins are predators they eat fish,
squid, and crustaceans. Their diets can vary based on
their environment and the available food sources.
Senses: Dolphins have an acute sense of hearing.
They have acute vision both in and out of the water.
Dolphins have elastic lenses that expand and contract
so they can see both above and below the water. A dolphin's
sense of touch is well developed. A dolphin's skin has
many nerve endings, and they are very sensitive to touch.
On the other hand a dolphins has a limited sense of
smell. Dolphins use a system of "radar" called
echolocation for navigation.
Description: Dolphins can vary in color, shape
and size. A dolphin's skin feels like smooth and is
often described as feeling like rubber.
All species of Dolphins produce a series clicks
and sounds that resemble whistles, moans, trills,
grunts, and squeaks. They are able to communicate
with their pod using different pitches and sounds.
Did You Know?
Orca Whales are actually dolphins. They
are the largest species of dolphins growing
up to 30 feet in length.
Hunting: Most species of dolphins are highly social
and often travel in groups called pods. They will often
work as a group in order to coral fish and hunt.
Gestation: Dolphins have long gestation periods
and can carry their young 11 to 17 months depending
on the species.
Birth: All species of dolphins give birth to
their calves tail first. They are the only mammal that
gives birth tail first. The size of the dolphin's calf
can vary depending on the species.
Calves: Dolphins are known to form strong bonds
between mother and calf.
Sexual Maturity: Dolphins are very sexually
active and often have multiple partners. Their can be
fierce competition for breeding partners.
Life Span: Dolphins can be afflicted with many
diseases that are found in humans including: stomach
ulcers, skin diseases, tumors, heart disease, urogenital
disorders, and respiratory disorders. Some smaller species
of dolphins have predators. All dolphins are sensitive
to pollution and habitat destruction. Fishing nets can
also result in the deaths of dolphins, as dolphins require
air to breathe, if they become entrapped in a net they
are unable to surface for air.
Social Structure: Dolphins are highly social
and travel in groups called pods. They form strong social
bonds and have even been known to assist and support
injured dolphins in their pods. They will also compete
with each other and act aggressively in order to mate.
Athleticism: Dolphins are effortless and efficient
swimmers. Dolphins can swim up to five times faster
than the fastest human Olympic swimmers. They can swim
25 mph for miles and with bursts of speed up to 35 mph.
Unusual: Dolphins can voluntary breathers. They
breathe when they are half sleep, during the sleeping
cycle, one brain hemisphere remains active, while the
other hemisphere shuts down. The active hemisphere controls
the dolphin's surfacing and breathing behavior.