10 Interesting facts about dolphins
If you grew up watching Flipper like I did, you’ve probably loved dolphins for most of your life. But even if you never watched the movie as a kid, everyone loves dolphins, right?
Dolphins are adorable, fun-loving sea creatures who don’t mind pausing for selfies and frolicking in pools with humans. They’re utterly lovely, and so beautiful. We love them!
*Googles a pic*
Most of us, though, know them only for two things: Flipper and having fun with humans in pools, usually in Florida.
But what else do we know about them? Is there anything else to know? Of course there is!
If you’re curious to know whether there is so much more going on with dolphins than you ever thought possible, here are 10 amazing and cool facts about them.
(Oh, and there’s also still plenty of time to watch Flipper. What are you waiting for?!)
There Are Lots More Species Than You Thought
There is only one species of dolphin, right? That species that starred in Flipper and which you paddled with in Florida.
Well, actually, there is more than one species. In fact, there are almost forty of them!
Unless you’re a seasoned dolphin expert (and hopefully one day I will be), you’re probably not going to be able to tell one dolphin apart from another. But to the trained eye, spotting their differences is easy.
Most of them live in temperate and tropic oceans, while around 5 species actually live in rivers.
Dolphins Eat Meat
It’s really hard to believe that such a lovely, benevolent and kind creature as a dolphin could eat meat, but here’s a heartbreaking fact: Dolphins are carnivores.
Yup. To survive, dolphins hunt down crustaceans, squid and all kinds of fish in the sea.
They have huge appetites, too; a regular, fully-grown adult dolphin gets through around 35 pounds of fish each day.
Dolphins Are Super Intelligent
It’s long been rumoured that dolphins are more intelligent, and that as soon as they’ve posed for a selfie with you they head back under the sea and work on their marine biology homework.
Studies have indeed proven that dolphins are super intelligent, but their intelligence isn’t simply a result of evolution. Rather than rely on ingrained knowledge that kicks in whenever they need it, dolphins are like us humans in that they actually acquire knowledge as they go through life.
Not just that, but they also pass on their knowledge to their friends and family!
Dolphins Are Part Of A Much Bigger Family
Dolphins are of course part of the oceanic dolphin family, but they’re also part of a much bigger family – whales.
Basically, they’re the sea family that you really don’t want to mess with, even if you’re a shark.
Because while a dolphin may look vulnerable, meek and too lovely to put up a fight, he or she can always swim home and call on their uncle to back them up.
Their uncle who is a KILLER WHALE.
That’s right, killer whales are dolphins. I know, right?!
Killer whale isn’t a scientific name, but was given to these mammals when sailors came across large whales that killed other whales.
Dolphins Are Really Social
You probably already had an idea that dolphins were social animals. After all, you’ve seen the photos on Facebook of your mates posing for selfies with them, swimming with them and even playing water volleyball with them.
But this kind of social activity is forced. Back home in their natural habitat, dolphins are naturally social. They hunt in groups, play in groups, and even sleep in groups.
N’aww. Wouldn’t you just love to hang out with them?
Well, so long as uncle killer whale isn’t around!!
Female Dolphins Have Some Strange “Nicknames”
Thought all dolphins were simply called “dolphins”? Think again.
It’s actually really lazy – and kinda ignorant (but we’ll forgive you!) – to refer to a female dolphin as “just another dolphin.” This is because female dolphins are actually called cows.
Male dolphins, conversely, are actually called bulls.
While babies are called calves.
Noticing a theme? Same.
Dolphins Are Good With Mirrors
Us humans love mirrors. We use mirrors to do our hair, paint our face and breakdown when we see a new pimple.
Most animals can’t recognise themselves in a mirror. If you try to get a cat or a dog to look at themselves in a mirror, they’ll frustratingly look away before scratching you in the face.
Monkeys don’t realise they’re looking at themselves in a mirror – but they can learn to recognise that they are actually staring back at themselves.
Dolphins, however, recognise themselves immediately.
Not just that, but they actually admire themselves, too!!
The Dolphin Whistle Is Very Distinct
You’ve probably heard a dolphin whistle (if you haven’t, seriously watch Flipper – okay I’m done with mentioning Flipper). But what you might not have known is that each whistle is very, very specific and is different from all other whistles.
Think of a dolphin whistle as they equivalent of a human name. When they whistle, they’re attracting the attention of a certain someone, rather than all dolphins all at once.
Unless they emit the whistle variant of “Oi!” of course.
Dolphins Breathe Through Their Heads
The animal kingdom is really strange at times, and nature certainly likes to throw up a few oddities.
But while we may think it’s strange that a dolphin breathes through their heads (using blowhole) they probably think it’s strange that we breathe through our noses.
Still, nothing is quite as strange as the turtle that breathes through its butt.
Young Dolphins Love Their Mothers
A killer whale generally doesn’t live beyond 30 years, while the average dolphin’s life expectancy is is between 45 and 50 years.
How long a dolphin lives for really depends on its type, though.
But dolphins take a while to truly grow up and fend for themselves, preferring to stay by their mother’s side for up to 3 years.
Do you know other interesting facts about dolphins?