smart and social
Dolphins are very social animals that live in family groups. There are 36 species in total, however it can sometimes be confusing to recognize them, because some members of the dolphin family have the word whale in their common name. In fact, the largest dolphin is the orca whale. Dolphins live in the world’s oceans and even in some large rivers.
There is a species of dolphin for every environment: for example, the bottlenose dolphin, one of the most popular species, lives in all the world’s oceans, except the Arctic and Antarctic. For its part, the pink dolphin lives in the Amazon River.
- Depending on the species, dolphins range in color from white or pink to darker shades of brown, gray and black.
- Dolphins are marine mammals, so they need to breathe air. To do this, they use a hole called a spiracle which is located on the top of the head.
- Unlike humans, breathing in dolphins is a voluntary act. Therefore, half of the dolphin’s brain remains asleep while the other half is alert, exerting control of breathing. Dolphins sleep with one eye open!
- Dolphins are strictly carnivorous, their diet consisting of fish, crustaceans and squid.
- Dolphins use echolocation: they emit sounds that travel in the water and that bounce off something and return to them as echoes. This echolocation allows them to find food and avoid predators, even in dark or murky waters. This ability is very useful for dolphins that live in rivers, as they must hunt in muddy waters.
- Dolphins are highly intelligent, they can communicate with each other through whistles and other vocalizations or sounds.
- Some species of dolphins face the threat of extinction, directly as a result of irresponsible behavior by humans. The use of fishing nets, environmental degradation and hunting are some of the reasons why some species are in danger.