90 Things You Should Know About Dolphins

  1. A dolphin’s gestation period is 12 to 13 months.
  2. On average, a dolphin calf will wait 5 hours until being nursed by its mother.
  3. A dolphin mother will nurse her calf until it is 2-3 years old.
  4. Just like humans, dolphin calves learn different behavioral traits from their mother through imitation, like how to interact with its environment, jumping, socializing, hunting, etc.
  5. Can you imagine a bucket with more than 30 lbs. of fish inside? Well, this is how much our dolphins eat on average, of course, this varies based on the weight and age of our cetacean friends.
  6. Like you, and everyone you know, dolphins also have a distinct “personality”. We like to call it a “dolphinality”. Some are introverted, others are more extroverted and socially playful.
  7. Just like humans, dolphins are complex creatures that have a well-defined hierarchy. They can be extremely competitive and territorial amongst each other. Based upon these interactions, their position in the hierarchy may elevate or lower.
  8. The dolphins communicate with each other through gesture and through different sounds they make, similar to whistling. Each one has its own distinct “whistle.” This acts an auditory signature to help dolphins understand who is who.
  9. Do know what threatens these animals in the wild? Unfortunately, it is us, humans. Through our ill-advised behavior like polluting the environment with toxic waste, garbage, and oil spills, we are destroying their natural habitat. Adding to the mess, is maritime traffic, as well overfishing their diet, and just plain dolphin-hunting.
  10. Dolphins are born with hair.  It is true that they are mammals, but dolphins only have hair when they are first born. This hair is found on the top of the rostrum. It falls out shortly after they are born. Dolphins do not grow any other hair for the rest of their lives.
  11. Dolphins are mammals just like we are. Dolphins breathe air, give birth to live young, nurse their babies with milk, have hair at some point in their life, and are warm blooded.
  12. Bottlenose dolphins have 72-104 teeth. They only get one set of teeth for life! Dolphins do not use their teeth to chew, instead they use their teeth to catch their food and then they swallow it whole.
  13. Dolphins give birth differently than other mammals. Dolphins are actually the only mammal that gives birth tail first. All others birth the head of their little bundle of joy first. A baby dolphin is born tail-first to prevent drowning. After the mother breaks the umbilical cord by swiftly swimming away, she must immediately return to her baby and take it to the surface to breathe.
  14. Dolphins Have Midwives During Labor. During birth, another female dolphin in the pod will assist the mother. They have been seen going as far as helping to pull the baby out.
  15. When humans take a breath, they replace only 15% of the air in their lungs with fresh air. When dolphins take a breath, they replace 90% of the air in their lungs with fresh air.
  16. Dolphins can recognize themselves in the mirror, and they love to admire themselves.
  17. Called “re-entrants,” dolphins once lived on land and looked and behaved something like a small wolf but with five hoof-like toes on each foot instead claws. Dolphins also have remnant finger bones in their flippers, a forearm, wrists, and a few remnant leg bones deep inside their bodies.
  18. Killing a dolphin in ancient Greece was considered sacrilegious and was punishable by death. The Greeks called them hieros ichthys, or “sacred fish.
  19. Dolphins were revered in ancient Rome and Greece.
  20. In Rome, dolphins were thought to carry souls to the “Islands of the Blest,” and images of dolphins have been found in the hands of Roman mummies, presumably to ensure their safe passage to the afterlife.
  21. Just a tablespoon of water in a dolphin’s lung could drown it. A human could drown if two tablespoons of water were inhaled into the lungs.
  22. Just one-half of a dolphin’s brain goes to sleep at a time.
  23. Dolphins can talk and understand each other over the phone.
  24. Some dolphins can understand as many as 60 words, which can make up 2,000 sentences. They also show signs of self-awareness.
  25. The dolphin brain is even more “folded” than humans’ and was this way millions of years before the first appearance of humans. Scientists often measure intelligence by the number of brain “folds.”
  26. Air can be expelled from a dolphin’s blowhole at speeds topping 100 mph.
  27. A dolphin’s sonar or echolocation is rare in nature and is far superior to either the bat’s sonar or human-made sonar.
  28. With echolocation, dolphins can distinguish between a steel ball that is 2½ inches in diameter and one that is 2¼ inches in diameter.
  29. A baby dolphin must learn to hold its breath while nursing.
  30. Blocking off a dolphin’s ears with suction cups hardly affects its hearing, yet if its lower jaw is covered with a rubber jacket, a dolphin will have trouble hearing. This has led scientists to believe sound may be carried from the water to its inner ear through the lower jawbone or even its entire body.
  31. A dolphin can produce whistles for communication and clicks for sonar at the same time, which would be like a human speaking in two voices, with two different pitches, holding two different conversations.
  32. A dolphin can make about 700 clicking sounds per second. The clicks come from deep inside the dolphin’s head, underneath the blowhole. Scientists call this area the “monkey lips.”
  33. The bulging part of a dolphin’s head contains an organ called the melon, which is filled with liquid fat. It acts as a lens, which focuses the dolphin’s clicks into a narrow beam of sound.
  34. Dolphins get water from the foods they eat, so they don’t drink. They have the same reaction to drinking salt water as humans do: it would dry them out until they died of dehydration.
  35. Among the different species of dolphins, life spans range between 12 and 80 years. Bottlenose dolphins live into their 50s, and orcas can live into their 80s. Typically, the bigger the dolphin, the longer the lifespan.
  36. Giraffes, humans, and dolphins all have seven vertebrae in their neck. Saltwater dolphins have at least their first two neck vertebrae fused, which allows them to torpedo through the water at high speeds. River dolphins must be able to twist around river bends, so their vertebrae are not fused.
  37. The blowhole is an evolved nose that has moved upward to the top of the dolphin’s head.


Photo by Courtnie Tosana on Unsplash


  1. The blowhole is an evolved nose that has moved upward to the top of the dolphin’s head.
  2. Because dolphins are connected to their mothers by an umbilical cord inside a womb, dolphins have belly buttons.
  3. A dolphin spends most of its life holding its breath.
  4. Every year, a dolphin’s teeth grow a new layer, similar to the rings inside a tree trunk. Scientists can tell how old a dolphin is from the layers on its teeth.
  5. Dolphins can move each eye independently. They can move each eye up, down, forward, and backward, giving them nearly 360 degrees of vision.
  6. Dolphins have hair at one point in their life cycle. Dolphins in the womb have a line of tiny hairs around their upper and lower lips, which typically fall out before birth. No mustaches have ever been discovered on a dolphin.
  7. Dolphin meat is sold in stores throughout Japan. Japanese dolphin or “drive” hunts kill nearly 20,000 dolphins, porpoises, and small whales every year.
  8. A 260-pound dolphin eats approximately 33 pounds of fish daily without gaining weight, which is akin to a human eating 15 to 22 pounds of steak a day.
  9. Unlike most wild animals, dolphins spend a lot of time enjoying sex and foreplay that is not determined by the urge to procreate or being “in season.”
  10. It is illegal to touch or feed a wild dolphin in U.S. waters.
  11. It is illegal to touch or feed a wild dolphin in U.S. waters.
  12. No one knows exactly why dolphins beach themselves. But because dolphins may use the magnetic field of the earth to navigate their way, some scientists believe that some places where dolphins strand have an abnormal magnetic field.
  13. Dolphins typically do not live alone, but rather in schools or pods. They have a complex social structure and seem to have a wide range of emotions, including humor. Large pods can have 1,000 members or more.
  14. Some scientists think that dolphins can also use their high-pitched sounds to stun or paralyze fish while hunting.
  15. Dolphins do not breathe automatically as humans do and will die if given a general anesthetic. They must sleep at the surface of the water with their blowholes exposed.
  16. Images of dolphins have been found carved far within the desert city of Petra, Jordan.
  17. The dolphin’s most dangerous enemy is humans.
  18. Unlike a fish, which moves its tail from side to side, a dolphin swims by moving its tale (made up of flukes) up and down. A dolphin carries more oxygen in its blood than a fish and can swim longer; hence, dolphins are better adapted to the sea than are any fish.
  19. Dolphins are better adapted to the sea than most fish.
  20. Dolphin teeth are used for grasping, not chewing. They have no jaw muscles for chewing.
  21. In 2006, the Yangtze River dolphin was named functionally extinct.
  22. Dolphins’ sonar seems not to detect the fine threads of fishing nets, and millions of dolphins have drowned as a result of becoming entangled.
  23. Dolphins cannot swim backward, which makes it difficult for them to escape fishing nets. If they can’t get to the surface, they can drown in a matter of minutes.
  24. In 1971, the Navy dispatched a team of dolphins “armed” with large carbon-dioxide-filled hypodermic needles strapped to their beaks to guard a U.S. Navy base in Vietnam. The dolphins were trained to deliver a fatal injection in humans’ lungs or stomachs.
  25. Bottlenose dolphins are the most common and well-known type of dolphin. Unlike most wild animals, wild dolphins have been known to play with humans, especially children
Photo by Thomas Nati on Unsplash


  1. While most wild animals avoid contact with humans, wild dolphins are known to play and associate with humans, especially children.
  2. Dolphins have names for each other and call out to each other specifically.
  3. Pink dolphins, called “botos,” are actually albino dolphins. They typically live in Brazil, but have been seen in the Gulf of Mexico.
  4. Dolphins can kill sharks with their noses. They may even circle around a shark to coordinate an attack.
  5. Dolphins are one of the few animals that can use tools. They use broken sea sponges to protect their noses while they forage for food.
  6. Dolphins have been known to work with both whales and humans to hunt for food.
  7. Dolphins don’t have a sense of smell, but they do have a sense of taste and, like humans, can distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter, and salty tastes.
  8. The term “dolphin” is from the Greek delphis, which is related to delphys(such as the Delphic Oracle), meaning “womb.”
  9. Dolphins, porpoises, and whales are all mammals called cetaceans, which is from the Greek word meaning “sea monster.”
  10. Dolphins are divided into two distinct family groups. The larger, more common group is the Delphinidae family, which are salt-water dolphins. The smaller group is the Platanistidae family, which are freshwater dolphins. The Killer Whale is the largest species of the dolphin family.
  11. The killer whale is the largest dolphin (true whales don’t have teeth but sift their prey through plates of baleen). The smallest dolphin is the Hector’s or Maui’s dolphin, of which only 150 are left today.
  12. Dolphins and porpoises are related, but they are not the same. Porpoises have smaller heads and shorter snouts than dolphins. They also have spade-shaped teeth, while dolphins have cone-shaped teeth.
  13. Dolphins can swim up to 30 miles (48.3 km) per hour.
  14. Some dolphins can dive as deep as 1,500 feet (457.5 m), but they usually stay within 200 to 250 feet (61 to 76.3 m) of the water’s surface.
  15. Dolphins have been observed healing quickly after life threatening bites from sharks. Research shows this is thanks to their skin and blubber having antibacterial properties and their ability to cut off blood flow by swimming deep.
  16. Dolphin teeth act like an antenna. Dolphins have between 80 and 100 teeth each. The configuration of their teethmeans they function as an antenna to receive incoming echolocation clicks.
  17. Dolphins give themselves names. Research shows that dolphins communicate using whistles. But, what researchers recently learned is that they give themselves distinctive whistles as their names and use them to identify each other.
  18. Dolphins take good care of their families. A group of dolphins is called a pod. The bond they have is very strong and dolphins have been observed taking care of the sick, elderly, and members of their pods.
  19. Dolphins enjoy sex. Dolphins spend a lot of time enjoying sex, even when it is not the right season or due to the simple urge to procreate. This is very uncommon among most wild animals. Dolphins, just like humans, have sex for pleasure.
  20. Dolphins Can Eat Up to 30 Pounds of Fish a Day.
  21. Dolphins Don’t Chew. Despite having 100 teeth, they swallow all their food whole.
  22. Dolphins Can Speak Two Languages at the Same Time. Dolphins are able to whistle and click at the same time. The whistle is to communicate and the click is for sonar. This is comparable to a human speaking in two voices, in two different pitches, during two different conversations.
  23. Dolphins Have Great Skin. Ever wonder why dolphins don’t have stuff like barnacles growing on them as some whales do? This is because they are able to grow an entire layer of skin in just two hours. They also have ripples in their skin which allow them to travel very fast and prevent parasites from grabbing hold.
  24. Dolphins Cry. Their eyes create “dolphin tears,” a slippery secretion used to protect the eyes from objects and infections.
  25. Dolphins Can Leap 20 Feet Into the Air. Dolphins can swim very fast and can also leap very far. They have recorded jumping as high as 20 feet in a single leap.
  26. Dolphins Can’t Smell. Dolphins have great eyesight and hearing, but they cannot smell a thing.
  27. Dolphins Are More Like Orcas Than You Might Have Thought. Despite having whale in the name, killer whales (orcas) are actually in the dolphin family.
  28. There Are 43 Different Species of Dolphin. There are 43 types of dolphins in the world, including 38 marine dolphins and five river dolphins.

















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