Welcome October! To celebrate the start of autumn here in the UK, we’re kicking off the month with something new, our #AnimalOfTheMonth feature. It’s a chance to learn more about the curious creatures we share our world with and to start each month on a positive. This month we’re diving into the ocean to share eight fascinating facts about dolphins, but next month, who knows! Stop back on the 1st of November to find out.
1. There are around 40 species of dolphin
Most live in the salty sea, but five species live in freshwater rivers. Maui’s dolphin is the smallest, with adults reaching around 1.2m in size. The largest, the Killer whale or Orca, can reach 9.8m!
2. Dolphins rely on sound to sense the world around them
They use echolocation to find their way around, hunt for prey and avoid predators. They send out a series of clicks and listen for the returning echo. The time it takes for the echo to come back tells them how big and how far away an object is. Using this method, they can detect an 8cm object from 110m away!
3. Dolphins call each other by name
Just like we have names for each other, dolphins do too. Each bottlenose dolphin has their own signature whistle, which is unique to them, just like a name. They use these whistles to greet other dolphins and to show others where they are.
4. Dolphins have to consciously think to breathe
It doesn’t just happen as it does for us. That means they cannot go into a deep sleep. Instead, they shut half of their brain down at a time and rest at the surface.
5. Baby dolphins are born tail first
This is unusual for mammals that are normally born head first. It is thought that this helps them swim straight to the surface after birth. They need to do this to breathe, otherwise, they would drown.
6. Dolphins can use tools to complete tasks
This handy skill is seen in only a select few animals. In Shark Bay, Australia, for example, bottlenose dolphins put sponges on their noses to protect them while they hunt for fish in the rocks. This clever trick is passed down through the generations.
7. Dolphins cannot smell!
Research has shown that dolphins do not have a complete olfactory organ – the part of the body needed for smell, and that means they cannot smell, but they can taste. It’s OK, though. They don’t need to be able to smell as their other senses are really good!
8. Dolphin stomachs are like cows!
They have three chambers. The first chamber is where they store food. They don’t chew, so it is here that the food is broken into smaller pieces. The second chamber is where most of the digestion happens, and the third is where it stays until it passes into the intestines.
What’s your favourite fact?
That’s some of our favourite dolphin facts, but what about you? Have any to share? Let us know your best dolphin facts in the comments.