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10 Fascinating Facts About Dolphins

dolphin jumping out of the water

Dolphins are one of the most impressive animals on Earth - and for good reason! Between their energetic playfulness, curious personality, and sharp intellect, it’s no wonder why humans have always been fascinated with these wonderful creatures. 

At Avi’s Watersports, we have the pleasure of spending every day with these friendly marine mammals, and yet we continue to learn more about them even after decades of serving the community in Marco Island. From our on-the-water experience during our dolphin sightseeing tours, here are 10 fascinating facts about dolphins! 

1. Dolphins Are Highly-Intelligent 

Dolphins are extremely intelligent creatures, and they are one of a couple of species to pass the self-awareness test where they can identify themselves in a mirror. Dolphins are also among the few types of animals that have proven to be able to use tools. As an example, dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia fit marine sponges over their beaks to protect them from rocks when they forage for fish at the sea floor. 

2. Dolphins Are Great Communicators 

A 2016 scientific study found that dolphins have an advanced, highly-developed communication system very similar to human language. Dolphins exhibited the ability to produce sound pulses reflecting human words and packs of these sound pulses equated to sentences. They produce various whistles, clicks, and squeals used in echolocation in order to “inform the community about their identity and about the location of other members of the social group”. 

3. Dolphins’ Brains Are Powerful

The likely reason for dolphin’s unique personalities and complex communication skills is their brain power. Did you know that dolphins have bigger brains than humans, with a developed neocortex allowing for their self-awareness and problem-solving skills? Their brain-to-body ratio is second only to humans, and their sensory awareness is remarkably advanced as well. While they have no sense of smell, dolphins can hear frequencies of sound 10x above the threshold of humans, have the ability to use echolocation, and have well-developed eyesight both in and out of water. 

If that wasn’t mind-blowing, it’s also true that dolphins can turn off half of their brain in order to sleep while keeping one eye open. They evolved in this way so that they could continue to swim while sleeping, but also to stay close to their group and keep an eye out for predators like sharks. 

4. Dolphins Are Social Creatures

Dolphins are very social animals. They play, hunt, and live together in what’s termed as ‘pods’. The largest pods of dolphins, called ‘superpods’, can consist of up to 1,000 members or more! Their linguistic skills facilitate their community structures, but they are also built around familial structures just like humans. In fact, dolphins usually only have one calf which lives with its parents for its first eight years of life. Furthermore, dolphins have been documented to help other animals, including humans, if they’re in need, and they will help fellow dolphins that are injured return to the surface for breathing. 

5. There Are About 40 Different Dolphin Species 

To be exact, there are 42 different dolphin species. They can be found in nearly all ecosystems, including freshwater rivers, saltwater, coastal, deep ocean, and estuarine, and surface temperatures varying from 32 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Dolphins also come in all different sizes, with the smallest being around 1.4 meters long (Hector’s Dolphins) and the largest being 8.2 meters (Orcas) or 27 feet long! Yes, you read that right, Orcas, also known as killer whales, are actually considered a type of dolphin. 

6. Dolphins Have Long Lifespans

The lifespans of dolphins vary considerably depending on their size, but they live far longer than most people think! The smallest species of dolphins live around 20 years while the largest dolphins can live up to 80 years or more. 

7. Dolphins Are Marine Mammals

The fact that dolphins are marine mammals means they must breathe air and they give birth to live young. Most dolphins can stay underwater for 10-15 minutes at a time before needing to surface, using a blowhole so that they can breathe while eating and not risk sucking up air into their lungs. Depending on the species, dolphin gestation takes between 9 and 17 months, and the baby is born tail first and ready to swim!

8. Dolphins Are Strong Swimmers

Speaking of swimming, dolphins are incredibly strong swimmers. They will travel around slowly, around only 2 mph, but they can reach sprinting speeds of over 30 mph for brief periods, allowing them to leap several feet out of the water! 

9. Dolphins Are Great Hunters

Just like their highly developed social skills, dolphins are great hunters and work in teams. One example of their hunting technique is called the “diver and barrier”, where one group of dolphins pursues the fish, and the second group acts as the barrier to wall the prey in. Another technique is called “fish-whacking”, where they use their tail to hit fish and stun them so their hunting partners can catch them more easily. Finally, most dolphins will produce bubbles through their blowholes in order to herd their prey to the surface of the water, closing in the area where fish are easily caught. With these different techniques, dolphins not only ensure that they eat well, but their whole pod does too. 

10. Some Dolphin Species Are Endangered

An unfortunate fact is that some dolphin species are highly endangered. The Māui dolphin, for example, is the most endangered species with less than 50 dolphins remaining. Dolphins are sometimes accidentally killed in fishing nets such as gillnets, driftnets, purse seines, trawls, longlines, and hook-and-line gear. Noise pollution from big ships in the oil and gas industry can also stress these creatures, leading to lower lifespans. Finally, dolphins that are kept in captivity rather than thriving in the wild also tend to live shorter lives due to less diverse nutrition and decreased socialization. 

Marco Island: One of the Best Places For Dolphin Sightseeing

There’s no wonder humans have been fascinated by dolphins - in many ways, they remind us of ourselves! For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing them in person, let’s just say it will be an unforgettable memory. 

If you’re planning a visit to Marco Island, consider going on an exciting dolphin sightseeing tour with Avi’s Watersports! With decades of experience, a journey with our family team through the 10,000 Islands will turn your trip into the vacation of a lifetime. Visit our website or call today to book your excursion!

Contact Us: (239) 777-9873

Open Hours

We offer tours 7 days a week!
Reservation hours are 9am – 6pm.

Tours Depart From:

Goodland Boat Park, 750 Palm Point Drive, Goodland, FL 34140
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