Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) consume approximately 8-15 kg (15-33 lb.) per day,
and Orcas (Orcinus orca - albeit captives ones) approximately 45 kg (100 lb.) per day.
Dolphins eat a variety of marine life, though their most
common food is fish and squid. Dolphins kept in captivity
have a diet that is very similar to dolphins in the wild.
Large dolphins eat larger marine animals such as turtles and
seals, while smaller dolphins also eat krill and smaller
marine life like shrimp. Dolphins that eat fish that are
higher in fat such as mackerel, or krill that are dense in
Antarctic krill oil require less food than those that eat squid.
Five (5) specific species live in fresh water, they are
usually named after the river they swim in such as the Amazon, the Yangzi
Jiang, or the Ganges.
|Species||Otherwise known as|
|Platanista gangetica||Ganges River Dolphin|
|Platanista minor||Indus River Dolphin|
|Inia geoffrensis||Amazon River Dolphin|
|Lipotes vexillifer||Chinese River Dolphin|
|Tursiops truncatus||Bottlenose dolphin||230 kg, 3.9 meters||All seas||Fishes, cephalopods|
|Delphinus delphis||Common Dolphin||75 to 85 kg, 1.70 to 2.40 meters||All seas except polar seas||Fishes, cephalopods, anchovy|
|Cephalorhynchus hectori||Hector's Dolphin||1.2 to 1.40 meters, 40 to 50 kg||Coasts of New Zealand||Small fish, cephalopods|
|Cephalorhynchus commersonii||Commerson's Dolphin||max. 1.7 meters, 40 to 60 kg||Coasts of Argentina, Chili,
|Kril, crabs, small fish, cephalopods|
|Cephalorhynchus eutropia||Black Dolphin||1.6 meters, 50 kg||Coasts of Chili||(unknown)|
|Cephalorhynchus heavisidii||Haeviside's Dolphin||(no data)||Coasts of South Africa||Fishes, cephalopods|
|Lissodelphis peronii||Southern Right Whale Dolphin||2.3 to 3 meters, no dorsal fin||Southern hemisphere||Mainly cephalopods, fishes|
|Lissodelphis borealis||Northern Right Dolphin||2.3 to 3 meters, no dorsal fin||Northern hemisphere||Cephalopods, fishes|
|Stenella attenuata||Spotted Dolphin||2.2 to 2.5 meters||Tropical & subtropical seas||Fishes, squids|
|Stenella plagiodon||Atlantic Spotted Dolphin||2.2 to 2.5 meters||Tropical Atlantic only||Fishes, squids|
|Stenella caeruleoalba||Striped Dolphin||2.7 meters, black stripe from eye to tail||Tropical seas||Small fish, shrimps|
|Stenella longirostris||Spinner Dolphin||1.8 to 2.1 meters||Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Pacific||Long and narrow fishes|
|Stenella clymene||Clymene Dolphin||1.8 to 2.1 meters||Tropical & subtropical Atlantic||Fishes, cephalopods|
|Lagenorhyncus albirostris||White-Beaked Dolphin||max. 3.1 meters||Cold seas, North Atlantic||Fishes, cephalopods|
|Lagenorhyncus acutus||Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin||max. 2.7 meters||Cold seas, North Atlantic||Fishes, cephalopods, shrimps|
|Lagenorhyncus obliquidens||Pacific White-Sided Dolphin||2.3 meters, 150 kg||Cold and mild seas, North Pacific||Fishes, cephalopods|
|Lagenorhyncus obscurus||Dusky Dolphin||1.5 to 1.7 meters||Cold coastal waters of southern hemisphere||Anchovy, cephalopods|
|Lagenorhyncus cruciger||Hourglass Dolphin||1.5 to 1.8 meters||Cold waters, Antarctic||(unknown)|
|Lagenorhyncus australis||Peale's Dolphin||2.3 meters||Cold coastal waters, South America, Falkland||Cephalopods, fishes|
|Lagenodelphis hosei||Fraser's Dolphin||2.3 to 2.7 meters, 160 to 210 kg||Tropical waters||Cephalopods, fishes|
|Grampus griseus||Risso's Dolphin||3.6 to 4 meters||Tropical and warm waters||cephalopods, some fishes|
|Steno bredanensis||Rough-Toothed Dolphin||2.3 to 2.8 meters||Tropical and warm waters||Fishes, octopus, calamars|
|Orcaella brevirostris||Irrawaddy Dolphin||2 to 2.5 meters||Tropical Indian Pacific||Fishes|
|Peponocephala electra||Melon-Headed Whale||2.5 to 2.7 meters||Coastal & high seas, tropical & subtropical||cephalopods, small fish|
|Feresa attenuata||Pygmy Killer Whale||2.2 to 2.7 meters||Tropical & subtropical waters||cephalopods, fishes|
|Sotalia fluviatilis||Tucuxi||1.4 to 1.9 meters||Coast and rivers||South America
from Brazil to Panama
|2 to 2.8 meters, max. 285 kg||Indonesia||Fishes|
|same as Sousa chinensis||West Africa||Fishes|
|Globicephala melaena||Long-Finned Pilot Whale||5.5 to 8.5 meters, 3 to 3.5 tons||All oceans, except Pacific||Cephalopods, morua|
|Globicephala macrorhynchus||Short-Finned Pilot Whale||4 to 4.5 meters, 2.5 tons||Warm & tropical waters||Cephalopods|
|Pseudorca crassidens||False Killer Whale||5 to 6.1 meters, 1.4 to 2 tons||Warm & tropical waters||Cephalopods, big fish|
|Orchinus orca||Killer Whale||6.5 to 9.5 Meters
4 to 8 Tons
black & white
|All coasts and seas||Infant whales, small dolphins, seals, turtles, fishes|
Dolphins have colonized all oceans and
seas of the planet, from polar to
tropical regions, true mammals they must get oxygen from air
and not from water such as fish, their infants are born underwater and must be
brought up to the surface immediately to survive. Another dolphin is often
present to help the mother when birth is taking place. Presence or non
presence of dolphins is a good indication of the state of the seas in many
parts of the world. Very common in some places twenty years ago it has
disappeared since. In other regions it is coming back because of man efforts
Climate or change in currents or sea temperature can also make dolphins disappear or come back after many years, the most remarkable case of this is the Monterey Bay in California where the Risso Dolphin reappeared in 1970 after a non presence of 70 years.
That's really a tough one. It is a little like asking if
people are friendly. Also, what is friendly?
Dolphin species vary in their degree of curiosity and interaction with humans.
Individual dolphins vary to the same degree. Some species are very shy, others will approach humans with great curiosity.
One solitary dolphin, interact with humans more than with any pod.
Jean Louise, a solo dolphin who lived in Brittany for many years, seemed to enjoy swimming with people but did not allow physical contact.
If dolphins have spent time in captivity, they can become very use to people touching them, riding along with them, etc.
But they also can become mildly aggressive; nipping, pushing, etc.
These are strong creatures with territorial interests.
It is also know of one dolphin in Italy that they didn't know what to do with because he was so aggressive with humans and other dolphins.
Dolphins seems to enjoy playing games with humans; they invent them if you don't.
We all heard of the famous stories about the dolphin rescues where a human is pushed to the safety of the shore by dolphins.
Bottlenose dolphins seems to enjoy pushing items.
The answer for now should be "it is possible that they do...".
Do we have a chance to comprehend it some day?
Will we be able to communicate in return?
These are not easy questions to answer and will not be answered very soon.
Studies and research on complex sounds exchanges between dolphins are still under way.
Sounds do not
alone account for communication between dolphins. Attitudes do also.
Body talk (mammals we said) is evident in many ways, as when a
perturbed mother will hold a misbehaving child on the bottom. The message is
clearly "don't mess with me and get back in line". Dolphins will also
slap their tail flukes on the surface as a kind of "hey stop
that". Communications does seem to take place on a much subtler level with
posture and body contact.
Man is the dolphin greatest predator, more than 100,000 dolphins die each year because of man, either in nets or for gastronomy (being eaten). In the Pacific Tunas and Dolphins follow the same routes, for years they were both captured in the nets aimed at the Tunas, the Dolphins were either drowned or slaughtered.
From 200,000 to 500,000 dolphins were killed this way between 1960 and 1972.
Now under pressure of common citizens, new legislation, actions of nature and wild life organizations, fishing industries in many countries have adopted new nets so that dolphins can escape. Tuna is now guaranteed to be "Dolphin Safe" in many regions of the globe (not all).
Despite ecologist actions Dolphins are still being served as meals in many parts of Japan, and hundreds are massively slaughtered each year in the Faeroe Islands.
Pollution of rivers, seas, and oceans by man activities is also a great danger for many species of dolphins, at the end of the food chain this mammal will concentrate all the poisons and chemicals man does release in its habitat.
The second predator of Dolphin after man is the Shark, the worst areas for these encounters are South Africa and Australia.
Finally the third greatest predator of Dolphins are .... Dolphins. Orcas have the habit to eat fish, seals, infant whales and small dolphins.
If you witness the illegal capture, killing, or harassment of any marine
mammal, such as bottlenose dolphins, whales, and seals, you may be able to
receive a reward of up to $2,500 from the federal government. To get a reward,
the information you provide has to lead to a conviction for a violation of the
Marine Mammal Protection Act. You can receive up to one-half of the fine that
the government collects based on your complaint.
If you witness a fisherman shooting at dolphins to scare them
away from his fishing lines...
If a business imports fur seal skin wallets and is trying to get other businesses to buy them for resale...
If a fishing boat allows much more than the legal limit of dolphins to get caught in their nets...
Office of Enforcement
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
1335 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
The answer to that one is "No" for
This issue was the subject of a paper by R.J Small and D.P. DeMaster:
"Survival of five species of captive marine mammals", published in Marine Mammal Science, vol. 11(2): 209-226 (April 1995).
This study showed no significant differences between the survival rates of bottlenose dolphins in captivity and in the wild (the Sarasota Bay population).
Bottlenose dolphin survival rates for the Sarasota population (the only one
studied in enough detail) is 0.961. This means that at least in the Sarasota
Bay (and also in captivity) the life expectancy (the average age they can be
expected to reach) is about 25 years. The maximum age (which only a few will
reach) is more than 40 years. Survival rates in other populations may be
different (the Indian River population in Eastern Florida has an estimated
survival rate of about 0.92 which means a life expectancy of about 12 years).
The bottlenose dolphin is not endangered.
The following dolphins species are listed as
The following species are listed as vulnerable:
Ganges river dolphin
The status of many species is simply insufficiently known to determine if they are in any danger or not.
Some species of dolphins are reported to swim up to 40
km/hr, due to special structures in the skin that reduce turbulence.
They spend the least amount of energy when swimming at speeds of about 8 km/hr.
The distance a dolphin travels depends very much on its food
The optimum swimming speed (the speed at which a dolphin spends a minimum of energy and hence can maintain for a long time) is about 8 km/hr.
Dolphins sleep about 8 hrs/day which would leave 16 hours for travel.
This would mean they can travel up to 128 km/day.
How much they actually do travel is unknown.
The dolphin is capable of diving for up to 20
minutes at 300 meters,
this is considered to be a maximum for a bottlenose dolphins.
Although in some experiments they have dived to about 500 meters (a dolphin that was especially trained for this).
Usually, bottlenose dolphin will not dive very deep (some populations live in areas that are 1 to 10 meters deep (Sarasota Bay).
The Dolphin respiratory system can renew 90% of its lungs at each inhalation (where only 15% for the human).
In order to extend the stay under water its blood circulation, capable of variable geometry, will concentrate in vital organs only.
Dolphin respiration is not a reflex such as with human being, it is a voluntary act.
It can be blocked when caught in a fishing net to prevent from drowning immediately.
All dolphins and whales belong to the scientific order of
All cetacean are marine mammals that have adapted marvelously to water and lost the faculty to come back on land again. Forever.
This order is divided into three suborders.
The toothed whales or Odontoceti which does include the killer whales, the beluga whales, the dolphins, and the porpoises.
The Mysticeti which does include the blue whales and the gray whales.
Finally the Archaeoceti which represent the extinct specie.
First cetacean are believed to have appeared 50 millions years ago and colonized all seas when immersed lands were still nothing but a dense jungle.
The oldest fossil named "Pakicetus" was found in the eighties near the Himalayan mountains on the Pakistani border.
Studies of this fossil have showed that it had still four limbs.
So it is clear that some mammals already living on land did return to the sea.
Why? It is not known.
This group was extinct about 15 millions years ago when the "squalodonte" or first cetacean (toothed whales of which the dolphin descent) appeared.
Fossils found in Italy and Germany along the Rhine river have identified the typical "squalodonte".
Legs are replaced by fins, one nostril has migrated on top of the head and has become a blow hole, the body is long and narrow, long range of teeth have appeared. It is already closer to the actual Orca than the older specie.
Modern forms of odontocetes appeared four to five million years ago.
All dolphins and whales can produce complex sounds, both for
communication among them and for navigation under water.
The common dolphin can hear sounds upwards of 150 kHz
but generally produce sounds ranging from 1.5 to 11.0 kHz.
Patterns of sounds can be observed, mostly clicking, moans, whistles, trills, and squeaks.
Males can whistle to get the attention of females or to warn the group of imminent danger
(so does man, we are all mammals too).
The proper term is echolocation. As stated in previous answer Dolphins can emit sounds from 1.5 to 11.0 kHz. Most echolocation takes place in the range of 2.0-4.0 kHz for Tursiops truncatus, as does most other vocalizations, whistles can go as high as 15 kHz. Sounds are believed to be emitted by the "nasal sac", an area just behind the melon (the rounded region of a dolphin's forehead). The melon itself might be used as a acoustic lens to focus these sounds. Low frequencies are emitted to locate far away objects as they travel far under water due to their long wave length. High frequencies locate objects at close range with high precision but don't travel far due to their short wave length. Dolphins can determine size, direction, speed, distance, and some of the internal structure of any objects under water. A female dolphin can detect that a swimming human female is pregnant (and will often in reaction tend to protect her). As the produced wave of sounds bounce off distant or close objects, the Dolphin receives in echo an acoustic "image" that is send to the brain in the form of nerve impulses for interpretation and action. Dolphin can detect a band of fish more than a hundred meters away.
Following are a few printed and electronic sources of information on dolphin sonar,
The Sonar of Dolphins.
Au, W. W.
New York: Springer- Verlag,1993.
Animal Sonar Systems.
Busnel, Rene-Guy, and James F. Fish, eds.
New York: Plenum Press, 1980.
Porpoises and Sonar.
Kellogg, Winthrop N.
Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1961.
The Bottlenose Dolphin.
Leatherwood, Stephen, and Randall R. Reeves, eds.
San Diego, California/London: Academic Press, 1990.
(This is the definitive work on bottlenose dolphins.)
Echolocation in Whales and Dolphins.
Purves, P. E., and G. E. Pilleri.
New York: Academic Press, 1983.
Wesley R. Elsberry
Chris Sturtivant's page
Coastal Ecosystems Research Foundation
Dolphins sleep only with one half of their brain at a
Remember Dolphins are conscious breathers. Should they sleep and go unconscious as we do they would simply suffocate or drown.
Sleeping Dolphins can be seen as resting, floating at the surface, with one eye open.
After a time, they will close the one eye and open the other one.
They alternate like this throughout their entire nap.
Dolphins and whales out of water have two problems: heat and their own weight.
Large animals have low surface to volume ratios, so it is
hard for them to cool themselves.
(This is why elephants and hippopotami often spend time in water.)
Also, whales are well insulated (blubber), which is good if they're in water, but not if they're beached.
It's like having a winter coat in 70 degree weather- you'd overheat very quickly.
Also, a whale's body isn't designed to support its own weight- it relies on water for support.
The larger whales will die from their own weight if they're beached long enough.
|Aquarium for Wildlife
Attn.: George Biedenbach/Training Department
610 Surf Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 1124?
|Aquarium of Niagara Falls
701 Whirlpool St.
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
|Atlantic Cetacean Research
70 Thurston Point Road
PO Box 1413
Gloucester, MA 01930
|Belle Isle Zoo & Aquarium
PO Box 39
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0039
|Center for Coastal Studies
Intern Review Committee
Provincetown, MA 02657
|Center for Marine Conservation
1725 DeSales St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
|Cetacean Research Unit
PO Box 159
Gloucester, WA 01930
|Chicago Zoological Park
3300 Golf Rd.
Brookfield, IL 60513
|EPCOT Center Trailer #251
Walt Disney World Co.
P.O. Box 10,000
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000
|Florida Dept. of Environmental
Florida Marine Research Institute
100 8th Ave., S.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5095
|Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal
Krista Berkland, Intern Coordinator
1129 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, HI 96814
|Marine Mammal Research Program
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife
4700 Ave. U, Bldg. 303
Galveston, TX 77551
P.O. Box 7777
Las Vegas, NV 89177-0777
|Mote Marine Lab
Andrea Davis, Coordinator of Intern/Volunteer Services
1600 Thompson Pkwy
Sarasota, FL 34236
|Mystic Marinelife Aquarium
55 Coogan Boulevard
Mystic, CT 06355-1997
|National Aquarium in Baltimore
501 E. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202-3194
|National Museum of Natural
Intern Coordinator, Education Office
Room 212, MRC 158
Washington, D.C. 20560
|Friends of the National Zoo
Research Traineeship Program
National Zoological Park
Washington, D.C. 20008
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1305 East-West Highway, 12th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 713-3145, ext. 153
|New England Aquarium
Boston, MA 02110-3399
|Pacific Whale Foundation
Kealia Beach Plaza
101 N. Kihei Rd., Ste. 21
Kihei, HI 96753-8833
|San Antonio Zoological Gardens and
3903 N. St. Mary's St.
San Antonio, TX 78212-3199
|Theater of the Sea
P.O. Box 407
Islamorada, FL 33036
|U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99503
2777 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815
Craig Snapp, Volunteer Coordinator
62 First Street North
P.O. Box 945
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
|Whale Research Group
Dr. Jon Lien
230 Mount Scio Rd.
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, Newfoundland
CANADA A1C 5S7
The olfactory lobes in the cetacean brain are quite
atrophied and non-existent in some species.
In most cetaceans, the olfactory nerves and chemoreceptors have disappeared or exist in a rudimentary form only.
Bottom line: Cetaceans can taste, but have no sense of smell.
Thanks to the tremendous work of Trisha Lamb Feuerstein you
will find all this and much more on her own web page at: http://www.physics.helsinki.fi/whale/literature/fic_main.html
You can most certainly anesthetize a cetacean! A special "lung" machine was
developed a number of years ago so that a cetacean (not ONLY dolphins) can go
under anesthetic and come back alive. This respirator more or less breathes
for them, remember that for Dolphin respiration is not a reflex such as with
human being, it is a voluntary act, and when "under" dolphins do not show any
type of breathing response. The machine is basically what is used on humans
only with a number of modifications. The procedure is tricky and will be used
only if absolutely necessary, local anesthetic is far preferred whenever
For anesthesia, they use much the same anesthetics on the fins that are used on humans (Halothane was popular), the anesthesia methods are very much the same now except Isoflurane is substituted to Halothane and Diprovan to Pentothal (fewer side effects).
For more data and details on this please refer to the work of Sam H. Ridgway and following bibliography :
|Anesthesia of the porpoise. In: Textbook of
(1971) Ridgway, S.H. and J.G. McCormick
28:394-403, Ed. by L.R. Soma. (The Williams & Wilkins Co. Baltimore)
|Anesthetization of porpoises for major
(1967) Ridgway, S.H. and J.G. McCormick
|The bottlenosed dolphin in biomedical
research. In: Methods of Animal Experimentation, Volume 3
(1968) Ridgway, S.H.
Ed. by W.I. Gay, Academic Press Inc., New York, pp. 387-440
|Effects of prolonged Halothane anesthesia on
(1970) Medway, W., J.G. McCormick, S.H. Ridgway, and J.F. Crump
|Homeostasis in the aquatic environment.
In:Mammals of the Sea: Biology and Medicine
(1972) Ridgway, S.H. .,
Ed. by S.H. Ridgway. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, 590-747
|Medical care of marine mammals
(1965) Ridgway, S.H.
|Surgical approach to the dolphin's ear. J.
(1974) Ridgway, S.H., J.G. McCormick, and E.G. Wever
188:265-276 Sam Ridgway
There are currently six legally registered dolphin-swim
programs in the United States,
the USDA said, but animal welfare groups said the unofficial number is much higher.
The USDA suggests items, such as the rule that limits the
people-to-dolphin ratio at 3-to-1
and another that states dolphins can only spend two hours interacting with people per day,
with a 10-hour rest period every 24 hours.
They also have limits on the size of the interaction area.
However you should never forget YOU are the visitor of the dolphin habitat, so please respect them.
Dolphin Research Center
MM 59 1/5 Highway US 1
Grassy Key, Florida 33050
31 Corrine Place
Key Largo, Florida 33037
Theater of the Sea
MM 84 1/5 Highway US 1
Islamorada, Florida 33036
Capt. Ron Canning
Key West, FL
(305) 294 6306
Capt. Vicki Impallomeni
1737 Laird St.
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294 9731
Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island
There are hundreds of books on dolphins!
You can find and review many of them right here on-line at:
Rainbow Dolphin's On-line
Everyone loves the king of the sea
Ever so kind and gentle is he
Tricks he will do when children appear
And how they laugh when he's near
They call him Flipper, Flipper
Faster than lightning
No one you see
is smarter than he
And we know Flipper
lives in a world of wonder
Lying there under, under the sea.
Look at the sky when rainbows appear
You can be sure that Flipper is near
Call him by name, a lass and a lad
He'll give you a ride on his back
We know our Flipper, Flipper
Knows every answer
No one can be
Smarter than he
And we know Flipper
lives in a world full of wonder
lying there under, under the sea.
Many a night, way down in the deep.
Oysters make beds so Flipper can sleep
Happy and gay when he comes along
They all start singing this song. CHORUS. . .
|Day of the Dolphin, The||1973|
|Free Willy 2||1995|
|Star Trek IV||1986|
|Whale of a Tale||1976|
Pierce Brosnan is an active supporter of Planet
Ark, an environmental organization based in Australia.
Sea World • Planet Ark • Andrew Comello • George Elston • Trisha Lamb Feuerstein • Bruce Lane • Bill Levinson • Jaap van der Toorn
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Dolphin Anatomy: Mouth, Melon, Blowhole, Fins, Belly, Fluke, Inside or Calves
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