10 Key Facts About Dolphins

Spinner Dolphin in the Red Sea
Spinner Dolphin in the Red Sea

Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. Although they look like fish and live in water, they are mammals. They are very trainable, as seen in shows in aquariums all over the world. Their socialization and high intelligence makes them a favorite among captive animals. However, there is a lot more to dolphins than meets the eye. Here is a list of 10 key facts about dolphins: What they are, where they live, and how they work.

1. Habitat

Dolphins are almost all over the world! Bottle nosed dolphins live in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Pink dolphins live in the Amazon River. Not every species lives everywhere, but every part of the world has some type of dolphin.

2. Mammals

Although dolphins live under water, they are mammals. This means they birth live young, whom they nurse. More importantly, they need to breathe air. This can be troublesome living under water. A dolphin rises to the surface and takes in air through its blowhole. They must come to the surface for air once every 7 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of dolphin.

3. Diet

Dolphins are carnivores, meaning they only eat meat. Their diet consists mostly of fish, squid, and crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, etc.).

4. Many types

The most familiar type of dolphin is a Bottle Nosed Dolphin. However, this is only one of 35 species of dolphin. There are Pink Dolphins, Spotted Dolphins, and Spinner Dolphins as well. In fact, a Killer Whale is actually a species of dolphin.

5. Weight

Because there are so many species of dolphin, their weight varies greatly. An average bottle nosed dolphin weighs 450-650 pounds. A Killer Whale, which we now know is a dolphin, is closer to 19,000 pounds. The Killer Whale is the largest dolphin. The smallest dolphin is the Popoto, weighing in at about 110 pounds.

6. Communication

Dolphins are generally very social. They communicate to each other through echolocation. They let out a series of squeaks, and then listen back for the sounds to echo. The echo allows them to locate objects, as well as identify what they are. Dolphins are actually now thought to have names for each other, with each dolphin in a pod having a unique set of squeaks that identify it.

7. Hunting

To catch their prey, dolphins herd and corral. When they head a school of fish, they surround it and make the fish tighten up into the smallest possible area. Then one dolphin at a time swoops through them and catches a fish to eat. Corralling is a little different. Instead of surrounding the school, the dolphins only come from one side. They push the fish close to shore, in shallow water, so there is nowhere for them to run except toward the dolphins. Then the dolphins again take turns swooping into the fish to catch them.

8. Life Span

The life span of a dolphin is fairly long. Again, it varies depending on the type, but the average life span of a dolphin is anywhere from 40-80 years.

9. Family

Family is important to dolphins! They travel with their family, called a pod. A pod is typically made up of about 12 dolphins. Although pods change throughout their life, and they may leave one and join another regularly, most dolphins are part of a pod. Few prefer to travel alone.

10. Reproduction

As mentioned, dolphins birth live young. A dolphin pregnancy lasts between 11 and 17 months (again depending on the species- the smaller dolphins have shorter pregnancies, with the killer whales having the longest). Typically each dolphin only gives birth to one baby at a time. When the baby is born, it drinks milk from its mother. Babies typically stay with their mothers for between 3 and 6 years. The mother cares for the baby and teaches them how to hunt for themselves. Then the baby can decide for itself to stay in the same pod or join another.

Learn more with these Dolphins websites.

Cite This Page

"10 Key Facts About Dolphins." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 23 Jan. 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/go/2106/10-key-facts-dolphins/ >.

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