1. DOLPHINS CAN BE FOUND ALL OVER THE WORLD AND IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS
There are 36 species of marine dolphins – living in nearly all aquatic environments, including oceans, coastal, estuarine and freshwater – and in temperatures ranging from less than 0°C to more than 30°C. In Britain, bottlenose dolphins are concentrated around west Wales and eastern Scotland – with the coasts of Devon and Cornwall also having pods. Scotland is home to the most northerly pod of bottlenose dolphins in the world.
2. DOLPHINS ARE CARNIVORES
Fish, squid and crustaceans are included in their list of p rey. A 260-pound dolphin eats about 33 pounds of fish a day. When h u .nting dolphins produce bubbles to herd their prey to the surface. They sometimes also use a h u .nting technique called ‘fish-wha c king’, where they use their tail to hit fish and so st.un them – making them easier to catch. They sw.allow a fish head first so the fish’s spines don’t catch in their throat.
3. DOLPHINS ARE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
They are as smart as apes, and the evolution of their larger brains is surprisingly similar to humans. Bottlenose dolphins are one of the few species, along with apes and humans, that have the ability to recognise themselves in a mirror. This is considered ‘reflective’ of their intelligence. Dolphins are also among the few animals that have been documented using tools. In Shark Bay in Western Australia, dolphins fit marine sponges over their beaks to protect them from sharp, h.armful rocks as they forage for fish.
4. Dolphins are part of the family of whales that includes orcas and pilot whales. Killer whales are actually dolphins.
5. DOLPHINS ARE CHATTY ANIMALS
Dolphins have some of the most elaborate acoustic abilities in the animal kingdom. They make a variety of sounds including whistles, clicks, squawks, squeaks, moans, barks, groans and yelps.
6. UNDERWATER NOISE POLL U TION IS A REAL TH RE AT TO DOLPHINS
Dolphins hear frequencies 10 times the upper limit of adult humans. Marine traffic around the British Isles is amongst the most intense of anywhere in the world. Noise poll u tion from naval activity, the oil and gas industry, seismic surveys and underwater construction can s.tre.ss and in ju re cetaceans. It also seve.rely int.erferes with their ability to communicate, reproduce, navigate and find prey – sometimes proving f.at a.l.
7. DOLPHINS BREATH THROUGH THEIR BLOWHOLES
Because dolphins are mammals, they need to come to the surface of the water to breathe. Unlike land mammals that breathe and eat through their mouths, dolphins have separate holes for each task. Dolphins eat through their mouths and breathe through their blowholes. This prevents the dolphin from sucking up water into the lungs when h u .nting, reducing the risk of dr.o. wning.
8. DOLPHINS HAVE FEW NATURAL E.N.EM.IES.
Humans are their main th re at. Poll u tion, fishing and h u .nting mean some dolphin species have an uncertain future. In 2006, the Yangtze River dolphin was named functionally e xt.in ct.
9. THEY CAN TURN OFF HALF OF THEIR BRAIN
Bottlenose dolphins sleep with one half of their brain at a time, and keep one eye open. It’s believed they do this to keep an eye out for their group – to make sure they stick together – and to look out for pre.d.ators like sharks.
10. THEY’RE FAST SPRINTERS
Bottlenose dolphins are usually fairly slow swimmers, travelling at about 2 mph. However they can reach speeds of over 30 mph for brief periods!