Dolphins are some of the most majestic creatures that roam around our oceans. These wondrous mammals are usually found ducking and diving in large numbers in the warmer waters of our world. Maybe you’ve swum with them, or maybe you’ve observed them from a boat, but nothing will prepare you for the journey you’re about to take with us as we learn loads of fascinating facts about Dolphins.
Fact 1: The name ‘dolphin’ actually comes from the Greek word ‘delphis’, which means ‘fish with a womb’ when translated into English.
Fact 2: A dolphin is an aquatic mammal. This means that they live in the water and they have qualities that are only applicable to mammals, for example, they are able to feed their young calves with milk from their own mammary glands.
Fact 3: Dolphins are not part of the normal order of ‘Artiodactyla’, because they do not have feet/hooves. But because they are still mammals they are part of the ‘Cetartiodactyla’ order which is more specific to whales and dolphins and is just an expansion of the word ‘Artiodactyla’.
Fact 4: Dolphins have a very complicated neocortex (part of the brain system). The neocortex is responsible for our ability to be self-aware, to have conscious thoughts, to problem solve, and it’s responsible for overall intelligence.
Fact 5: A typical Bottlenose dolphin will have a brain mass of about 1500-1700 grams. For simplicity, a standard teabag weighs about 2 grams, so a smaller brain would weigh the equivalent of 750 standard teabags. That’s a lot of tea for one person!!
Fact 6: Dolphins have between 72-104 teeth in their rostrum (The nose like an extension on the front of them). That’s more than double the amount of teeth a fully grown adult has. An adult usually has 32 teeth in their mouth.
Fact 7: Unlike humans who have 2 sets of teeth – baby teeth/milk teeth – a Bottlenose dolphin only has 1 set of teeth for life. While you may think, how do they manage with only one set, well the answer is they don’t actually chew their food so there’s less wear on their teeth!
Fact 8: We as humans are told to drink plenty of water, but dolphins don’t actually drink water as we would think they would! As surprising as this may seem, because they literally have an abundance of water around them, they get all the water they need from their food. All the fish they eat are filled with enough water to whet their appetite – pardon the pun!
Fact 9: Dolphins gracefully swim through our oceans at just under 4 mph, when they aren’t in a rush.
Fact 10: Don’t try this at home, 1. Because it’s dangerous and 2. Because you’re not a dolphin. Dolphins don’t chew their food, they swallow their food down whole. They only have teeth in their mouth to help them grip onto food.
Fact 11: The pointed nose section of the dolphin is actually called the ‘rostrum’. The rostrum is where the dolphin’s teeth are.
Fact 12: Bottlenose dolphins are commonly found in and around Cape Cod, and the Florida area, but they can be found around the waters in the Gulf of Mexico too.
Fact 13: Dolphins are the fish connoisseurs of the ocean! They’ll eat pretty much any fish that they can find, and at any given opportunity. Being opportunity esters they don’t have a strict mealtime plan.
Fact 14: Dolphins, like other animals who live in cold water, must stay warm, to keep warm they have a layer of blubber under their skin. Blubber is a thick layer of adipose tissue that serves as insulation for dolphins and many other sea animals.
Fact 15: If you’ve ever swum or come up close with dolphins you might already know that dolphins can see you in and out of the water. But did you know that to see underwater dolphins have to produce an oil-like substance in their eyes to protect their eyes from the oceanic water.
Fact 16: Dolphins do give birth to their babies and nurse them until they’re old enough to live independently of their Mothers. This is another common feature amongst mammals and is another reason why dolphins are not fish.
Fact 17: There is no hard evidence to suggest that dolphins can see every color on the color spectrum, but researchers do know that they can see in black and white, and occasionally green, and blue.
Fact 18: The rostrum, (nose part of the dolphin), is used by some dolphins to rustle around on the ocean floor and to seek out any hiding fish.
Fact 19: A common feature of mammals is that they all have hair, but if you’ve seen or touched a dolphin you’ll know that they have smooth shiny looking skin that’s free from hair or fur. So, perhaps you’re thinking how can they be mammals if they don’t have fur? The answer is simple, when a baby dolphin is born it does have some fur on its rostrum, which is its long pointed nose part. The fur then falls off as the calf matures and doesn’t ever return.
Fact 20: Like human babies, baby Bottlenose dolphins are born with fewer teeth than adult Bottlenose dolphins. These dolphin babies are born with just 25 teeth but the teeth stay with them for life and are just added to until they reach a full set of teeth (72-104).
Fact 21: The common Bottlenose dolphins’ scientific name is ‘Tursiops truncatus’.
Fact 22: It is not uncommon to find a Bottlenose dolphin in saltwater, oceans, estuaries and in some rivers.
Fact 23: Fancy a game of hide and seek? Well, you’re in luck because dolphins are great at hiding and blending in with their environment. With their greyish back and lighter bellies, dolphins can camouflage into whatever light condition their in. If it’s really sunny it’ll be hard to detect them because they’ll be so reflective, and if it’s dark at the bottom of the ocean they’ll look darker too. Pretty neat feature!
Fact 24: Traditional mature Bottlenose dolphins weigh between 400-500 pounds, that’s the equivalent of almost 363 pairs of average-sized jeans (based on 400 pounds).
Fact 25: Blubber, that helps dolphins stay warm, is also a source of energy for dolphins if they haven’t quite eaten enough food for the day. Sometimes fish aren’t always in abundance so it’s good to have a backup!
Fact 26: When dolphins feel threatened or are just playing around with their dolphin friends they can swim to a top speed of about 17 mph. If your name is Michael Phelps, and you’re a professional swimmer, you might be able to swim to a max speed of 6mph for a short distance in comparison. But, in reality, a non-athletic human swimmer swims at about 2 mph.
Fact 27: Amity, was said to be Sea World’s oldest dolphin. Amity passed away at the age of 55.
Fact 28: Nellie, is actually the world’s oldest dolphin who lived in captivity. She passed away at the age of 61.
Fact 29: An average Bottlenose dolphin is 8.5 feet long. That’s just over half the length of an average family-sized sedan car.
Fact 30: ‘Echolocation’ is an amazing skill that dolphins have developed to enable them to survive and communicate in the ocean. Echolocation is when a dolphin receives information from sound waves that are traveling around in their environment. Dolphins analyze and act upon these reflected sound waves to create a 3d picture of their surroundings. It’s very similar to how radar works, bouncing radio waves off objects and then receiving a signal back. But echolocation is far more advanced and accurate.
Fact 31: A gestation period for a dolphin is typically 10-12 months long, though, this isn’t the longest pregnancy period in the animal kingdom (each dolphin species has a different gestation period). The longest pregnancy in the world of animals belongs to the elephant. An elephant will be pregnant for 95 weeks, which is more than double that of a human.
Fact 32: As a lot of dolphins live in shallow waters, they’re not likely to dive deep down into the water. But, there once was a Navy trained dolphin called Tuffy, who dove down 300 meters into the water.
Fact 33: Dolphins, can not only swim fast, but they can also hold their breath for about 5-7 minutes. Most humans can only hold their breath for about 30-45 seconds. Some humans, who practice holding and are in great physical health, can hold their breath for 2 minutes. Even at 2 minutes, a dolphin can hold its breath 3 times longer than a human.
Fact 34: A baby dolphin is called a ‘calf’.
Fact 35: Dolphins have this really cool, mind-boggling ability to keep 1 half of their brain awake while the other half goes to sleep. They do this for safety reasons, and because they have to keep breathing when they sleep. While most animals, including humans, go to sleep without giving it much thought, if a dolphin did this they would put themselves at risk as they would not be able to breathe and they would lose their environmental awareness.
Fact 36: Bottlenose dolphins are not currently registered as an endangered species.
Fact 37: A calf, which is a baby dolphin, drinks milk from its Mother. The calf uses a straw-like beak to latch onto its Mother’s teat to get milk and not salty water.
Fact 38: The biggest predators that are after dolphins are Dusk Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Bull Sharks, and the Great White Sharks.
Fact 39: Whaling is a major threat to dolphins, getting tangled in fishing nets, changes to the climate, habitat destruction, toxic waste, and oil developments are other issues they face on a daily basis.
Fact 40: Bottlenose dolphins can live until they’re 40 years old in the wild, and Orcas can live to be about 70 years of age.
Fact 41: The ‘Killer Whale’, also known as an ‘Orca’, is a type of dolphin. Interestingly, they don’t look similar to dolphins as one is much bigger and is black and white in color, but they are of the same family.
Fact 42: Dolphins are part of the infraorder ‘Cetacea’, There are about 89 species and these are split into 2 groups: Odontoceti and Mysticeti.
Fact 43: In the Pacific Ocean you can see the Bottlenose dolphins anywhere from Australia to Japan. You might also catch a glimpse of them over by the Hawaiian islands too.
Fact 44: These dolphins are part of the order ‘Delphinidae’.
Fact 45: Dolphins travel together in a ‘pod’ or a ‘school’.
Fact 46: As of 2013, there have been 38 species of dolphin recorded. Here are some examples;
- Short-Beaked Common Dolphin
- Bottlenose Dolphin
- Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
- Pacific White-Sided Dolphin
Fact 47: A male dolphin is called a ‘bull’ and a female is called a ‘cow’.
Fact 48: A pod of dolphins usually includes between 5-20 dolphins. Of these, some are young calves and the others are females. Although it is not unheard of for large groups of 1,000 dolphins to be traveling together, males would be included in this count too.
Fact 49: There are about 600,000 Bottlenose dolphins on Earth at present. These are the most popular species of dolphin.
Fact 50: Researches suggest that some Bottlenose dolphins have learned and adapted to the environments where they live. According to reports, dolphins living near Scotland prefer deeper waters to swim through, but when looking at dolphins near Florida they prefer shallow waters. This could be something to do with the weather and temperature as Scotland is much colder than Florida.
Fact 51: Calves will stay with their mother until they are 5-10 years old in some cases.
Fact 52: Female dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, use tools called ‘sponges’ to dig up food to eat. According to reports, they are the only ones who do this and the females only ever teach their female offspring.
Fact 53: Dolphins have belly buttons! Unlike a human’s belly button which sometimes sticks in or out, a dolphin’s belly button is flat so they can go through the water easily.
Fact 54: To determine the number of dolphins around the world researches use ‘chromosome banding’ to keep an eye on populations.
Fact 55: Bottlenose dolphins who live around Florida, reportedly start giving birth around 6-13 years of age and they can do this about 1-6 times in their lifetime.
Fact 56: Female and male dolphins can mate all year round.
Fact 57: If you go out on a dolphin sightseeing tour, you won’t be disappointed as dolphins are known for putting on a good show! You’ll often see them jumping high out of the water, diving into waves, and generally having fun out on the water.
Fact 58: Dolphins do not stay together after they have mated, the male sticks around for a few days but the Mother looks after the baby until it is old enough to go out into the world on its own.
Fact 59: They do use the blowhole on their head to breathe.
Fact 60: When trained to jump, dolphins can jump anywhere between 15-30 feet into the air.
Fact 61: Dolphins are able to recognize themselves in a mirror.
Fact 62: There are stories that dolphins will not go near pregnant women. One argument for this is that dolphins can use their echolocation senses to hear the fetus.