Dolphins are aquatic and cetacean mammals known for their uncommon intelligence. They can be found anywhere around the world, mostly in shallow waters on the continental shelves. They are also predominantly carnivorous, feeding majorly on fish, squid, and crustaceans. Not to mention a smooth skin type and their rounded foreheads.
Dolphins are incredible. They are socially skilled, intelligent, agile, joyful, and playful creatures that share many emotional similarities with humans. There is an impressive range of different species of dolphin and they all have their own unique identities and characteristics!
dolphins are very interesting animals, which is why we have compiled a list of 10 incredible facts about Dolphins below.
Dolphins Have Very Big Brains
As noted before, one of the most notable things about dolphins is their super intelligence thanks to their big brains. As a matter of fact, their brains are larger than most human brains but they are not as smart as humans. That’s because, while dolphin brains are bigger, they have smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex which makes them inferior to humans in terms of intellect and intelligence.
However, even with all that, they are most probably the second most intelligent species on Earth today. Bottlenose dolphins are one of three creatures, apart from apes and humans, who can recognize their own reflection in a mirror. That speaks to their impressive brain power and there is more.
They are also one of few animals in the world that can use tools to their advantage. Some scientists, while documenting, found a pod of dolphins wearing sponges on their beaks while hunting to shield them from sharp rocks. Not many animals can boast that level of ingenuity.
Dolphins Have Super-Developed Language Skills
Dolphins have some of the most diverse vocal ranges amongst animals. They may have a plethora of vocal sounds including moans, groans, yelps, squawks, barks, whistles, and of course, clicks. They use these sounds to communicate with one another and find objects (echolocation).
Are you intrigued yet? Well, there is more. Some experts say in the early parts of their existence, every dolphin comes up with its own unique whistle giving them a unique identity. Since each whistle is unique, they can call for one another by simulating the whistle of the dolphin they want to communicate with.
Dolphins Express Love…Even To Humans
Much like dogs, dolphins can express loving emotions even towards humans. A good example is the incredible dolphin, known as Peter the Dolphin who purportedly fell in love with a researcher known as Margaret Howe. The researcher was trying to get the dolphin to communicate in English and while at it, they formed an unlikely bond, which according to Howe was emotional and even sensual.
Also, they are always willing to lend a hand and help their friends with some scientists describing them as “reciprocal altruists.” They also reportedly help humans and even whales.
Dolphins Sleep With One Eye Open
Dolphins often sleep with one eye open and contrary to what you may have just guessed, it’s not because they feel unsafe. Rather, it’s because, like whales, they don’t enjoy automatic breathing, i.e they have to consciously decide when to take every breath. However, they have mastered the art of sleeping, even with this challenge.
Also, while sleeping, dolphins have a rare ability to only allow half of their brain to be inactive while the other half remains active as it helps them detect predators and danger. Simply genius!
How many species of dolphins are there?
Currently there are 49 dolphin and porpoise species which are grouped into six families: the oceanic dolphin family is by far the largest with 38 members; the porpoise family has seven members; and there are four river dolphin families, each containing just one species. However, classification is not an exact science and as more information and discoveries come to light, deliberations will continue and some dolphin species are likely to be further split into more than one species and/or subspecies.
Names and nick names can certainly be confusing; there are eight dolphin names that feature the word ‘whale’, including pilot whales, killer whales, false killer whales and melon-headed whales. Two species have whale and dolphin in their name; the northern right whale dolphin and the southern right whale dolphin – no wonder both the public and scientists get confused!
Where do dolphins live?
Dolphins live in the world’s seas and oceans and in some rivers too. Some dolphin species prefer to live in coastal areas, others like shallow water but prefer to live away from the coast close to patches of shallower water which are located further out to sea.
Orcas are the only dolphins which live in the Arctic and Antarctic. Their large size means that they have more protection against the harsh cold of the freezing seas. Most dolphins prefer tropical and temperate waters as they are warm-blooded mammals and so it is easier for them to regulate their body temperature in these environments.
Which is the biggest dolphin?
The biggest member of the dolphin family is the orca (killer whale). The larger males grow up to 9.8m (32ft 2in) and weigh up to 10,000kg (22,046lbs). Their black, towering dorsal fins grow up to 2m (6ft 7in) and are unique among all whales and dolphins. At birth, orcas are 2.1 to 2.6m (6ft 11in – 8ft 6in).