Dolphins are extremely intelligent aquatic mammals and belong to the family of whales. There are almost forty distinct species of dolphins with orcas, also known as killer whales, being the largest in the category.
Dolphins are sea-based but use their blow holes, located in a central position above their heads, to breathe air every five to ten minutes. In that regard, it serves the purpose of being a nostril of sorts for this aquatic mammal.
CharacteristicsDolphins are found worldwide, predominantly in shallow seas of tropical and temperate oceans. They are carnivorous animals, which means they feed on smaller fishes and squids. Although their color varies from one specimen to another, the vast majority of dolphins are gray in color and their beaks are notably darker in shade than the rest of their body.
Typically, dolphins reside in groups of five to a dozen individuals, which are collectively referred to as pods. They enjoy a loosely structured lifestyle and are considerably social in nature. Interaction is vital for all members of the whale family and dolphins are no exception. This essentially explains why dolphins are so friendly when they make contact with humans at various aquariums.
At sea, sharks provide opposition for dolphins, although a pod provides more than a formidable match for a shark! In some instances, dolphins are not intimidated by their fellow fish and may even hunt sharks as a group.
In terms of their movement, dolphins are agile and flexible, which can be observed when they spring forth from the surface of the seas or their swimming pools and continue to leap upwards, much to the delight of onlookers.
Although their population is not known, a concern for dolphins’ welfare has been growing at an alarming rate as certain species have declined in numbers. A disconcerting fact is that many species have either been identified as endangered or classified as extinct!
There is no specific season during which dolphins breed. Instead, they are involved in the reproduction process throughout the year. However, it has been noted that the optimal dolphin mating season is in spring and autumn.
In principle, the gestation period for dolphins lies between 9 to 17 months, which is longer than the average mammal but more common among fishes. As the period of birth comes closer for dolphins, the mothers separate themselves from their clique and deliver the newborn close to the surface of the water.
About the Author: Amita Vadlamudi, a former Information Technology professional has written on many subjects, including science, technology and history. Ms. Vadlamudi’s professional resume is posted on About.me. Look for Amita Vadlamudi’s many articles on her Wordpress website.