This year, our blog has covered everything from highlighting aggressive behaviors to a“creature feature” on a unique species of dolphin, like the Amazon River Dolphin.
So, to wrap up the end of the year, this month’s blog is going to highlight 10 fun facts about dolphins. For instance, did you know that they have three-chambered stomachs? And, of course, we’ll go into detail about those facts.
1. Dolphins don’t drink water
Dolphins don’t have to drink freshwater, rather they get it from the fish and other prey that they eat.
2. Lots of Kinds of Dolphins
While most people are familiar with the common bottlenose dolphin, there are actually about 40 species of dolphins (not including the 7 porpoise species) and they are found all over the world. There are oceanic dolphins in the family Delphinidae and the river dolphins. The largest dolphin is the killer whale, while one of the smallest dolphins is the Hector’s dolphin that lives off the coast of New Zealand.
3. They Don’t Chew Their Food
Dolphins have teeth, but they don’t chew their food (fish, shrimp, squid etc..) they swallow it whole.
4. They Can See Out of the Water
Dolphin eyes are specially designed to see above and below the water. To see underwater they produce an oily substance to protect their eyes.
5. They are Born with Hair
All mammals, including dolphins, have hair. Dolphins are born with just a few hairs on their rostrum which falls out shortly after they are born. They don’t grow any hair the rest of their lives.
6. They Can’t Smell or Taste (Much)
Dolphins don’t have a sense of smell, lacking olfactory nerves. They do have some taste buds, but apparently, only have receptors to pick up salt while almost all other vertebrates can enjoy the 5 primary tastes, including sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami. (Learn more here: https://www.science.org/content/article/whales-cant-taste-anything-salt)
7. Females Have Uniquely Shaped Genitalia
The vagina of each dolphin species has a special combination of flaps and folds, spirals and twists. Female bottlenose dolphins, for example, have a complex spiral-shaped vagina, while the female harbor porpoises have up to thirteen different folds. (Learn more here: https://whalescientists.com/dolphin-vaginas-will-blow-your-mind/)
8. They Don’t Breathe Through Their Mouths
Dolphins are mammals and they must come to the surface to breathe air. But they don’t eat and breathe through their mouths, they have separate holes for each activity. Dolphins eat through their mouths and breathe through the blowholes that sit atop their heads. Apparently, this prevents dolphins from sucking up water into their lungs when eating, reducing the risk of drowning.
9. Males have a Prehensile Penis
Dolphins have adapted to life underwater. So, to make the act of sex easier underwater, male dolphins have a prehensile penis, which means that that they can extend, swivel and grasp onto their partner to stay connected during the act. (Learn more here: https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/the-mechanics-of-dolphin-sex-all-the-dirty-details-you-need-to-know).
10. Efficient Breathers
Dolphins do a lot of diving and breath-holding and compared to humans, they replace a lot more of the air in their lungs with each breath. 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.
Claybourne, Anna. Dolphins (Living in the Wild: Sea Mammals). Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2013.
Frohoff, Toni and Brenda Peterson. Between Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 2003.
Catton, Chris. Dolphins. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.