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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Know your bottlenose dolphins

You know that they are fascinating to watch, you know that they are very intelligent, you know that they are grey and live in water, but did you know all this about them? Read on…

Bottlenose dolphins are found all over the world, in temperate water areas. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are found, not surprisingly, in the Atlantic Ocean, so if you are looking at the Atlantic and see a fin sticking out of the water, then you are more than likely looking at one of them.

Dolphins form groups called pods. Pods are mainly composed of female dolphins and their calves, but there are occasionally male dolphins too. Groups of pods formed mainly of young adult males are called bachelor pods.

Dolphins are pregnant for approximately 52 weeks. Baby dolphins are called calves and are about 105 centimetres long at birth. They feed from their mother for between six months and two years. The father takes no part in the rearing of a young dolphin.

Dolphins eat fish, squid and other marine invertebrates. Having a healthy diet is very important because it affects the production of blubber which is under the skin and is what keeps the dolphin warm when it is in cooler water. Dolphin’s stomachs have three chambers which digest the food.

The blowhole on the top of a dolphin’s head allows it to take a breath without stopping.

A dolphin’s dorsal fin (the one on its back) helps it to keep its body temperature steady and also helps its stability. The fin has no bones or muscles in it.

Pectoral flippers are the ones on the sides of a dolphin’s body and they use these to steer and turn. These flippers are a bit like human hands and have bones in them.

The part of the dolphin’s body from the base of its dorsal fin all the way to the tail is called the peduncle. It is very muscular and this is what provides the power for swimming.

A dolphin’s tail is composed of two tail flukes, which it uses to propel itself through the water and, when leaping, out of the water.

There are large numbers of bottlenose dolphins in the world and they are not in danger of dying out, but we should still be thoughtful in our interactions with them in the wild. Careless actions by humans can affect them and their environment. Litter and rubbish which is discarded into the sea can be swallowed, or tangled round them. It is illegal to feed wild dolphins so the best way to get up close to them is by going to one of the many dolphin centres in Florida.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 11 February 2008
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