Friendly, social, playful and intelligent, dolphins are always delightful to see underwater, or on the surface riding bow waves of the boat. Here are a few facts about dolphins that you may find interesting:
- Unique whistle
Each dolphin has their own unique whistle that they communicate with, and to identify each other. Over the course of its first year, a dolphin develops its own signature whistle. Their whistle remains the same throughout their lifetime. Female dolphins may even teach their calves their whistles before they are born.
- Social learning behaviour
Dolphins are well known for their strong capacity to observe and imitate skills through social learning. This helps them to learn to use tools as well. For example, while foraging, many dolphins have been observed covering their snouts with sponges to protect themselves.
- Switch off half their brain
Dolphins need to swim up to the surface to be able to breathe. So, in order to sleep without drowning, dolphins shouldn’t really sleep for several hours at a time. Instead, they rest one hemisphere of their brain for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day, while the other part stays awake. This way, dolphins can effectively continue swimming, breathing, and watching out for predators 24/7.
- Hang out with their best mates
Dolphins are very social creatures and are happy to spend time with other dolphins. However, they segregate themselves into groups of friends. Just like us, dolphins prefer the company of certain buddies more than others.
- A complex digestive system
Dolphins have around 250 teeth. They use them to catch prey only, not to chew their food, as they directly swallow it whole. The digestion occurs in just one of their stomachs, as they have multiple stomach chambers. One is allocated to digestion, the other one stores the food before it gets digested.
- One calf per birth
Most female dolphins carry their babies for 9 to 17 months, but they only give birth to one offspring in each pregnancy. Dolphin calves are born tail first, instead of head first, so they can’t drown during the birth. Also, the calves typically don’t leave their mother’s side for another seven years.
Dolphins can be spotted in many of our destinations, including the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Truk Lagoon, Egypt; take your pick!
Main image: © Alex Dawson