Whether or not you’ve ever seen a dolphin, you’ve probably heard a lot about their intelligence, playfulness, or anatomy, but here are 4 facts about dolphins that you probably didn’t know!
Mixed Up Senses
Dolphins use sound as their primary way to “see.” They make clicking sounds that bounce off objects and come back to them in order to know where prey, predators, or other dolphins are in the water. It works really well for them, and their sonar capabilities are the best found in nature, far superior to the echolocation bats use and even some man-made sonars. This doesn’t mean they are blind, though; they do have limited eyesight under and over water to help them stay safe. Dolphins also have a sense of touch, which is used when hunting pray and cuddling newborns. On the other hand, they don’t have a sense of smell at all.
Dolphins are carnivores and enjoy snacking on everything from fish and squids to harder to swallow prey, like crabs or turtles. Their teeth are used just for grabbing prey, as dolphins lack the jaw muscles needed to chew, and the fish are swallowed whole. The average adult dolphin can eat up to 33 pounds of food a day! In order to catch their food, dolphins sometimes work together and herd schools of fish together in a tight space and take turns eating.
Dolphins live in very large groups – called pods – of up to 1,000 dolphins. This comes from how social dolphins are. They enjoy hunting down prey, playing games, and swimming together. Another reason their pods are so large is because baby dolphins also stay with their mothers for a long time. Calves nurse for two years and can stay with the mother for an additional eight years. Dolphin cruises, like the ones done by Southern Star Dolphin Cruise, have become a popular way to see these huge pods swim and play in the emerald waters of the Gulf Coast.
Porpoise with a Purpose
Even though dolphins are at the top of the food chain in the ocean, they eat a lot of ill or dying fish. These fish are often easier to catch and make fast meals. As a result, dolphins help rid the ocean of diseased fish and allow the healthy populations to reproduce. It also cuts back on diseased fish that end up on our dinner tables. Don’t worry about the dolphins though. They can eat these sick fish without getting ill themselves. Because of this, scientists use them as an indicator to something being wrong in the waters; if dolphins are getting sick, it shows that something needs to be addressed.