Dolphins belong to the marine mammal group called cetaceans which includes whales and porpoises. They are warm-blooded, reproduce by birth and get their source of oxygen from the air. Synonymously linked to being playful, intelligent, gregarious and physically delightful, dolphins are the complete entertainment package for animal shows and zoos.
Fact 1:Â The origin of the word Dolphin is from the Greek word ‘˜Delphis’ translated as ‘˜fish with a womb’.
Fact 2:Â There are about 40 species of dolphins. The smallest of the dolphin species, Maui’s Dolphin, is around 4 feet (1.2m) long and weighs around 90 lbs (40 kg). The largest dolphin species is the orca,Â or killer whale. Male orcas grow to about 25 feet in length and weigh about 19,000 pounds.
Fact 3:Â Due to their marine habitat, the respiratory systems of dolphins have evolved to a much more complex and sophisticated system compared to land mammals.
Fact 4:Â Dolphins, unlike humans, do not breathe involuntarily. However as the brain cannot be on conscious mode all the time, it has adapted to this by utilizing half of the brain to be conscious and the other half in sleep mode. The conscious brain then manages involuntary functions of the dolphin including breathing.
Fact 5:Â Dolphins communicate using echolocation to detect objects and avoid preys in the water. This feature has been taken advantage of by the US Navy by using dolphins through its Marine Mammal System, to detect mines in the sea.
Fact 6:Â Dolphins are known for their acute sense of intelligence. The brain-to body ratio of the dolphins is second to humans. The greater number of convoluted folds in its’ brains as compared to the human brain indicates a greater surface area for neurological activities.
Fact 7:Â Bottlenose dolphins have been found to display symptoms of diabetes 2 during the night before reverting to a non-diabetic state in the afternoon. This has been postulated as a precaution in ensuring there is an adequate sugar supply to the brain during the night when there is no replenishment of food. A diabetic state occurs when resistance to insulin is lowered and more sugar enters the blood stream. In the afternoon, once food is consumed, the diabetic state is reversed. Further research is being carried out in determining the mechanics behind the switching so that it can be used for the benefit of curing diabetes in Man.
Fact 8:Â Studies have found dolphins’ exhibiting tool related culture by training their young in foraging for food and this trait is passed on for generations amongst female bluenose dolphins.
Fact 9:Â The biggest predator of dolphins is Man (oil spills and tuna fishing) followed by the sharks and dolphins specifically orcas.
Fact 10: Dolphins normally live in social groups called schools numbering from 12 to 1,000. Communal interaction and the social training of the young is an integral part of the school’s activities. The distinctive feature of the dolphins is their social bonding and unity in foraging and capturing food and bow riding alongside ships.