Dolphins are some of the most playful and social animals on the planet. There are many species of dolphins found in oceans and even rivers around the world.
Let’s learn about these fun, friendly creatures! Afterwards, you can try our fun coloring activity at the end!
What do dolphins look like?
There are 43 species of dolphins in all. Some species of dolphins have the word “whale” in their names. In fact, the largest type of dolphin is the killer whale.
Most species of dolphins have several characteristics in common. They have smooth skin, flippers, and a large, triangular dorsal fin on their backs.
They have an eye on each side of their heads. Dolphin eyes move independently of one another, so they can look in two directions at once.
Dolphins have about 100 teeth and a long, thin snout.
They have a blowhole on the top of their heads. The blowhole contains a pair of nostrils, which dolphins use to breathe above water.
We usually think of dolphins as gray. However, different species can be white, brown, blue, black, or even pink.
Where do dolphins live?
Dolphins are found in every ocean in the world. Some like to live close to the coast, while others live far out in the ocean.
However, most dolphins live in shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans. Five species of dolphins live in rivers.
What do dolphins eat?
Most dolphins eat fish, squid, octopus, and shrimp. Killer whales also eat penguins, birds, seals, and small walrus.
Dolphins use clicking sounds to herd schools of fish, then they often eat the fish together as a group. Bottlenose dolphins strand fish on mud banks, then eat them.
Dolphins are also known to follow whales, seabirds, and boats to eat the fish they scare up or throw away.
Although they have teeth, dolphin don’t chew their food. They catch fish and other prey in their teeth, then swallow them whole.
Dolphins have multiple chambers in their stomach. One chamber digests food, and another stores it before digestion.
Do dolphins travel in groups?
Dolphins are social animals. They live, eat, and play in groups of anywhere from five to hundreds.
They often swim and roll in synchronized movements as a group. They communicate with clicks and whistles.
Dolphins work as a team. They trap and eat fish together, usually taking turns swimming through a school of fish and feeding.
They also help other dolphins who are hurt or sick. They take turns pushing the injured dolphin to the surface so it can breathe.
Dolphins even have names. Each dolphin has its own unique whistle that other dolphins use to call it.
Scientists believe that female dolphins often teach calves their whistles before they are born.
Female dolphins give birth to one dolphin calf at a time, although twins are a possibility.
When the calf is born, the mother must rush it to the water’s surface to take its first breath.
Baby dolphins stay with their mothers until they are between 3 and 8 years old.
Dolphin population size
About ten species of dolphins are endangered. Threats to dolphins include habitat loss, fishing nets, dams, and predators like sharks.
In 2000, many countries joined the International Dolphin Conservation Program.
This is an agreement to limit the number of dolphins injured and killed by tuna fishing.
In U.S. waters, species like the bottlenose dolphin are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
Other Interesting Facts About Dolphins
- Dolphins don’t drink water. They get all the water they need from the fish they eat.
- Dolphins have great vision both underwater and above water. Above water, their vision is about as good as a dog’s.
- They also have excellent hearing. Dolphins receive sounds through their jawbone and head, and the vibrations enter the bones of their inner ear. They use echolocation to find food and stay away from predators.
- Depending on the species, most dolphins live from 40-80 years.
- The smallest dolphin, Maui’s Dolphin, is about 4 feet long and weighs 90 pounds. The largest, the killer whale, is 25 feet long and weighs about 19,000 pounds.
- Scientists have discovered that dolphins have friends. They don’t spend their time equally with other dolphins. They get along with some dolphins better than others.
- Dolphins can’t breathe underwater. They swim to the surface of the ocean for air. They breathe through the blowhole on top of their heads.
- Instead of sleeping for hours at a time, dolphins take naps of about 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day. They rest one hemisphere of their brains at a time so they can continue swimming to the surface, breathing, and keeping an eye out for dangerous predators.
More Animal Facts.
Fun Activity Time!
We hope you enjoyed learning some dolphin facts! Now it’s time to try our fun coloring activity where you get to color in a dolphin. Enjoy!