Dolphins live in the oceans worldwide and tend to live in a variety of habitats, from coastal waters to the open ocean.
Even though they prefer temperate and tropical waters, with surface water temperatures of 10 to 32 C (50-90 F), they will travel into colder water in order to find food.
Most dolphins live in salt water, but some species have been known to thrive in freshwater locations.
Find out all you can about these animals and how they can be cared for in their natural environment.
Behavior: These warm-blooded mammals breathe air, but can stay under the water for about fifteen minutes. They can also swim to depths of over one hundred meters. In their search for food and fun, dolphins can travel up to sixty kilometres of thirty-seven miles. Dolphins live and travel in close-knit groups called pods. In these pods, they hunt and care for their young and other sick dolphins.
Diet: Dolphins are active predators and eat a wide variety of fish, crustaceans and squid. They do not chew food and tend to swallow their food whole. As well as, breaking larger fish by shaking them, they also rub them on the ocean floor. Dolphins also tend to feed where there are boats fishing for shrimp or fish such as tuna.
Special Abilities: As well as using their very good eyesight and hearing, dolphins have another sensory ability called echolocation. They can create lots of very fast clicks in their forehead and these clicks race out through the water and bounce off objects in front of them. This then returns to the dolphin who can feel the clicks in their lower jaw.
Communication: Echolocation is similar to how a television antennae works. As a result, the dolphins get a picture in their minds of the object that is in front of them. Dolphins use this echolocation for many things such as; finding food in the dark, when navigating around or finding their way when the water is dirty. When dolphins want to communicate with each other, they make different sounds. These are a long and a short series of whistles.
Collisions: Many dolphins are injured or killed by boats and jet skis each year. Speed reduction and dedicated observers can help reduce the number of collisions. Technical devices that sense dolphins can also be beneficial, such as laser, sonar and infrared techniques. You can be very observant on a boat or jet ski and let the driver know if you spot a dolphin. Dolphins do not deserve to be hit or injured in any way.
Dolphin Drive Hunting: This method of drive fishing occurs when dolphins are herded together by boats into a bay or onto a beach. Their escape to the open sea is usually prevented by the use of boats and nets. Dolphins are hunted this way for their meat or are sold to oceanariums for profit. This practice mainly occurs in Japan, the Solomon Islands, Faroe Islands and Peru.
Littering and Rubbish: Ingestion and entanglement can impact dolphins in the wild. Damage can occur when dolphins eat the plastic bags and other rubbish. With a full belly, dolphins can starve to death as they feel they are full. Also, swallowing rubbish can lead to various digestion problems. In addition, entanglement can also be a problem for dolphins. If dolphins get caught in lines, nets, ropes or plastic, it can restrict their movement. This can result in starvation, infection, amputation and drowning. People can stop creating rubbish and littering, as this can end up in the ocean and waterways. Create less rubbish by using recyclable bags. Also, non-toxic products can be used in the home to prevent dangerous chemicals ending up in the ocean and waterways.
Tuna Fishing and Nets: In the tuna industry, nets are set up to catch a school of tuna. Tuna tend to gather beneath dolphins, so the fishing boats will follow pods of dolphins. Once the dolphins are spotted, speedboats are launched to herd dolphins away, while the main boat sets up a long curtain of net. Unfortunately, hundreds of dolphins can still be caught in the net and can die. Contact the Marine Authorities in your area if you see a dolphin being hurt, injured or killed.
Feeding Wild Dolphins: Their social groups are disturbed if people feed wild dolphins. This threatens their ability to survive in the wild. It is vitally important that young dolphins are taught how to forage for food so that they have a chance of surviving in the wild.
Swimming with Wild Dolphins: When seeing a dolphin in the wild, it is important not to treat them like a toy or a pet. Dolphins seen on television or in captivity are trained and may not bite the hand that feeds them. However, dolphins in the wild can bite when angry, afraid or frustrated. It is important not to try to swim with wild dolphins and disturb them when they are hunting for food.
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