March is Dolphin Awareness Month! These charming creatures are known for being sociable, intelligent, and acrobatic, and we think they deserve to be celebrated! Check out our list of interesting dolphin facts!
- Did you know that the orca (or killer whale) is technically a dolphin? In fact, it’s the largest dolphin. Dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans, a group which also encompasses porpoises and whales.
- There are around 40 types of dolphin species! They are grouped into either oceanic dolphins, or river dolphins.
- Dolphins are social creatures, and typically live in a pod of 5 to several hundred other dolphins.
- Dolphins use echolocation to move around and hunt. They bounce high-pitched sounds off of their surroundings and listen for echoes, like bats do. Their ear openings are very small slits behind their eyes that don’t connect to their middle ear.
- Their vision is great both in and out of the water. When light hits water, it is refracted, because it changes speed. To help them see refracted light, Dolphins have a special lens and cornea in their eyes.
- When dolphins are in gestation, they typically stay pregnant for 9 to 17 months, and then give birth to a single calf. (Rarely, they’ll have twins.)
- A dolphin calf will nurse for up to two years, and stay with its mother until it’s three to eight years old.
- Dolphins can jump as high as 20 feet out of the water!
- Dolphins need to come to the surface of water to breathe, because they are mammals. However, dolphins differ from land mammals in that they have separate openings for eating and breathing. They eat through their mouths and breathe through their blowholes to reduce the risk of drowning from inhaling water.
- Dolphins and porpoises are quite similar — but they have some key differences. Both are intelligent, social, and use echolocation to navigate. Their differences lie in their fins, bodies, and faces. Dolphins are more slender than porpoises, and have elongated faces and cone-shaped teeth. Porpoises are stouter, and have small mouths and spade-shaped teeth. Dolphins’ dorsal fins (in the middle of their back) are either hooked or curved, while the porpoises have triangular ones.
Dolphins are also altruistic, and often help other animals in need — and apparently aren’t afraid to approach other species for help, either! In this video, watch as a dolphin reaches out to a human for help!
Want to check out more videos of dolphins being the amazing creatures that they are? Check out this video of a pod of dolphins rescuing a seal here! Happy Dolphin Awareness Month!
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