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Dolphin characteristics

Dolphins are aquatic mammals characterized by a curved mouth that gives them a permanent smile. For this reason and other features, such as their curious and friendly character, they are one of the animals that people like the most. Currently, there are 43 different species of dolphins, of which 38 are marine species and 5 are river species.

If you want to know more about the characteristics of dolphins , delve into this article that we present to you from AgroCorrn, because here we talk about both their physical features and their habitat, feeding, reproduction, intelligence and more details related to them.

Physical characteristics of dolphins

These are the main characteristics of dolphins :

  • Dolphins are carnivorous cetaceans and are also odontocetes, that is, they have teeth.
  • They are characterized by having two lateral fins and a triangular fin at the top, along with a horizontal tail that they use to propel themselves and a beak-shaped snout.
  • These aquatic animals have a smooth and rubbery skin , generally blue-gray in color, although it can also be black, white, light gray, bluish or even pink and, normally, a darker color is distinguished on the back compared to the rest. of the body. Here you can learn more about the pink dolphins of the Amazon .
  • Under the skin, they have an insulating layer of fat.
  • Dolphins need to rise to the surface of the oceans or seas to breathe at different time intervals, through their blowhole .

Dolphin habitat

Dolphins have a global distribution, that is, they are all over the world , from Ecuador to subpolar regions avoiding extremely cold waters, although most of the species are centered in temperate zones and tropical areas.

Normally, they inhabit shallow seas in areas of continental shelves and, although most species of dolphins are marine , there are also some that live in fresh waters . The distribution and habitat of dolphins is different for each species, although all will be able to change their habitat when necessary to survive.

What do dolphins eat

Although it is difficult to determine exactly the amount of food consumed by a dolphin, the average daily consumption is between 2 and 10% of its body weight. Their diet is much more complex and diverse than we think, and it can also change geographically and seasonally.

Although the sardine ( Sardina pilchardus ) is one of the most important species of fish in the diet of dolphins , these cetaceans are opportunists in terms of food, which implies that they feed on any species of fish or other organisms that are found in the area, resulting in a diet consisting of a wide range of fish and a wide variety of prey.

If we focus on it geographically, we can these examples of the feeding of dolphins :

  • It has been observed that the most important prey for dolphins around Europe in general are: sardines, anchovies ( Engraulis encrasicolus ), horse mackerel ( Trachurus trachurus ) or mackerel ( Scomber spp.).
  • In British waters, herring ( Clupea harengus L.), sprat ( Sprattus sprattus ) and squid, such as Todaropsis eblanae, are also added .
  • On the French coast, on the other hand, the prey of the dolphins are mainly gádidos, preferably the blue whiting ( Micromesistius poutassou ) or Trispterus spp. Beyond fish and squid , dolphins also eat some crustaceans , such as crabs , some mollusks , especially cephalopods, such as octopuses , and plankton .

To expand more on this information, you can consult this other AgroCorrn article on What dolphins eat and where they live .

Dolphin hunting techniques

These are the hunting techniques that dolphins use the most :

  • One of the most used techniques to find the prey is the bait-balling behavior (“the bait ball”) , where a group of dolphins swim in a circle around a school of fish, forcing the school of fish to take refuge among them and , in turn, preventing the fish from escaping, which ends up generating a ball between them which makes them an easy prey. In this way, dolphins have abundant prey in a small region.
  • Another technique for capturing food is called corralling (“corralling”) and is typically used in or near shallow water. This technique consists of chasing the fish until they take them to shallow waters, or narrow and small places where they are trapped and have no option to escape. In these circumstances, the dolphins benefit from the limited mobility that the fish will have for a better attack.
  • In addition to these techniques, dolphins can also search for food through echolocation , that is, generating sound waves which bounce off animals or other objects around them, and dolphins receive information through the echo that is emitted from the rebound of the waves . Through the creation of these sound waves, dolphins receive information regarding size, direction, distance and thickness of the animals or objects where they bounce, thus providing them with crucial information so that the dolphins can determine what type of object is about. Echolocation is especially important in dark areas or where light is scarce.

Reproduction of dolphins

Dolphins give birth and raise their young, as we humans do, that is, they are viviparous animals . They suckle their young until eighteen months and remain with their mother for up to three years. During this time, another dolphin babysits them (either male or female) and will be the only dolphin that the mother will allow to approach the calf. Dolphins have more than one partner in their lifetime and generally give birth to only one calf at a time.

The intelligence of dolphins and their behavior

Dolphins live in groups, mostly in groups of up to 12 dolphins, although in the open ocean when several groups meet, dolphins unite some groups, forming large herds. This has endowed them with highly developed social behavior . Within these groups, dolphins hunt together while working collaboratively to capture their prey, even taking turns hunting or guarding; even so, there are some species that prefer to search for food individually.

On the other hand, these highly intelligent mammals communicate by screeching and whistling , although the possibility that dolphins possess a language is still unknown today. In fact, it is known that, in some genera, each dolphin has its own characteristic whistle and, based on this own whistle, dolphins can easily recognize other specific individuals that they have not seen in a long time.

After knowing all this about these incredible aquatic mammals, we recommend you read this other article about The 10 most intelligent animals in the world , among which are dolphins.

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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