Remember dolphin Flipper, Alpha & Beta, Hope and Winter, Snowflake, Orca Willy or Jones the hacker dolphin from the movie Johnny Mnemonic? If you’ve known these animals, it only means two things: you’ve met some of the planet’s most beloved dolphins to make it onto the big screen, and you already know how sweet they are, just like their relatives who swim in the deep waters of the oceans.
The ancient Greeks called the dolphins ‘hieros ichthys’, which means sacred fish. They even went so far as to consider killing a dolphin a sacred act and therefore punishable by death.
Dolphins are extremely intelligent, friendly, funny, playful and full of surprises. And with such positive qualities, it’s hard to stay immune to their charms. It’s no wonder, then, that Albert Einstein praised them by saying, “There’s no question dolphins are smarter than humans as they play more.” Here are the top 10 most fascinating facts and tidbits about dolphins that we’ve picked out for you.
- 10. Dolphins can heal themselves well
- 9. The killer whale, is a dolphin
- 8. Dolphins know how to use tools
- 7. Dolphins take care of sick relatives
- 6. Protected by midwives and loved by their mothers
- 5. Dolphins sonar is the best in the world
- 4. Dolphins have 2 stomachs
- 3. Dolphins take turns sleeping their brains
- 2. The Dolphin’s Amazing Brain
- 1. 36 species of dolphins
10. Dolphins can heal themselves well
Dolphins have extremely sensitive skin, so they can easily be injured by the slightest touch of a hard surface. Despite the sensitivity, they have a great healing capacity, even in deep wounds such as shark bites. The experts have no clear explanation for this phenomenon, especially since they claim that similar mammals with similar wounds would die from a hemorrhage.
9. The killer whale, is a dolphin
Orcas are sometimes called ‘killer whales’, but in reality they are not whales. Orcas are the largest of the dolphins and one of the most powerful predators in the world. With a life expectancy in the wild ranging from 50 to 80 years, orcas can reach up to 6 tons. They feast on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and even whales. This is where they also got the nickname ‘killer whales’. Orcas are also able to grab seals from the ice. They also eat fish, squid and sea birds.
8. Dolphins know how to use tools
It would be an exaggeration to call dolphins carpenters, but they sure know how to use tools. They use broken sea sponges to protect their noses as they forage for food. But make no mistake, dolphins are not the only creatures that use tools. Recent studies talk of chimpanzees using rocks to crack nuts, while others fish for termites with blades of grass. Gorillas measure the depth of water with the equivalent of a dipstick.
7. Dolphins take care of sick relatives
It is said that elephants caring for a crippled herd is a sign of empathy. Well, we could say the same about the dolphins who often take care of sick, old and injured dolphins in their group known as ‘pod’. If necessary, they can help others breathe by bringing them to the surface.
6. Protected by midwives and loved by their mothers
Depending on the species, the gestation period for the dolphin is 9 to 17 months and the mother breastfeeds the calves two to three times a year. Dolphins have been observed nesting and cuddling with their young. It is in the nature of the dolphins to stay with their mother for between three and eight years before they leave their pod.
5. Dolphins sonar is the best in the world
The dolphin’s sonar is the best in nature and is superior to that of bats and artificial sonar. Like bats, they use echolocation to navigate and hunt, bouncing off high-pitched sounds from objects, and listening for the echoes. Their teeth act like antennae to pick up the sounds reflected by their prey during echolocation.
4. Dolphins have 2 stomachs
One stomach is used for food storage and the other stomach for digestion. By the way, dolphins never chew their food, they swallow it whole. Their teeth are only used to catch their prey; fish, squid and shellfish are their favorite meals. A dolphin of the 120 kg also eats 15 kg of fish per day.
3. Dolphins take turns sleeping their brains
To avoid drowning while sleeping, only half of the dolphin’s brain goes to sleep. The other half stays awake so they can keep breathing. Dolphins are said to be as smart as monkeys, and their larger brains evolve surprisingly much like humans.
2. The Dolphin’s Amazing Brain
Dolphins are not only beautiful creatures, but they are also highly intelligent. By comparing the ratio of brain to body size, scientists concluded that dolphins are second only to humans! A dolphin’s brain is 4-5 times the size of other animals of similar size.
1. 36 species of dolphins
Dolphins are known for their playful nature. Most dolphins swim in the shallow areas of tropical and temperate oceans, but there are also some that enjoy life in the rivers. There are 36 species of dolphins, the most common of which is the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).