Marine Biology

Dolphins and their Complex Social Behaviors



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Did you know that there are "26 living species", of dolphins swimming in the ocean? Have you ever heard that they are in the same family as a whale? They are actually called a "small cetaceans" or a "toothed-whales", scientists and biologists. Through their studies they found that they have advanced or complex personalities. Scientists believe that dolphins are truly remarkable and highly intelligent.

However, don't confuse them with "porpoises", which are generally "smaller" than a dolphin. Basically, dolphins are a part of the "Delphinidae" family and porpoises are a part of the "Phocoenidae" family. Also, dolphins have "conical shaped teeth" and porpoises have spaded-like shaped teeth". Another difference is that dolphins have a "distant break" in the "rostrum" and porpoises don't have one.

Dolphins are known as "carnivores" or "meat eaters", but the mostly prey on "fish", "octopus", "squid", and more. They are classified as a "marine animal", which bodies that have "marvelously adapted" to their "aquatic environment". Also, dolphins usually swim in a "series of dives" and have attained speeds of "25 mph". Their "flippers" are used primarily for "propulsion and their bodies are able to move effectively".

According to the, the dolphin's skin replaces it's self frequently and they have a layer of blubber that hold their body heat. All species of dolphins are considered "mammals", because they give birth to "live young" and feeds them "milk" for almost "2 years". They also stay with their calves for "three to eight years" or when they "sexual maturity", and are ready to start their own family.

Numerous studies suggest that dolphins can live about "30 years", in the wild or in captivity with proper care. Most scientists believe that dolphins have been known to bond with other dolphins in their family or "pod". Mainly, dolphins enjoy showing off their intelligence and bonding with their trainers. Most captive dolphins bond with their human trainers, as they are being trained to perform stunts.

Chances are, you have seen a dolphin perform in person or on television. They enjoy swimming, playing, and performing for anxious fans. Even dolphins that live in the wild are known to perform trick for an audience with food. There are many wildlife parks that use dolphins as a main attraction and use dolphin to entertain the crowd. Many scientists have found that dolphins are gentle and easy to train, by using whistles and rewards like fish or toys.

Each dolphin communicates with unique "clicks" and sounds, as they swim and play together. Sometimes, dolphins will show affection, by stroking each other with their tail or rubbing their bodies against another dolphin. Every scientist will agree that they rely on internal sonar; in order to swim around the obstacles in the ocean and the aquarium. They can create an "acoustic picture" of the "object", by the "echo" that follows each of the "outgoing clicks".

All dolphins are "characteristically social" and "depend on social interaction" for their basic needs. Some scientists believe that dolphins are capable of showing emotions, just as human does. Recently, their playful personalities have appealed to specially challenged children. So, now there are several organizations, which allow these special children to swim with the dolphins as therapy.

Additionally, a vacationer can swim and interact with dolphins, for the cost of a ticket. Their playful nature and intelligent behavior have intrigued scientist for hundreds of years. However, the dolphins have to face many predators in the sea, including humans. For example: many of them are being "killed" by "fisherman", who is trying to catch the "tuna". Therefore, it is important to make their "aquatic" (Gardner, 2007) habitats safer for dolphins, so future generations can enjoy them also.


References:
Gardner, E.(2007) Dolphins
Retrieved on the World Wide Web on September 10, 2007
http://www.earthtrust.org/wlcurric/dolphins.html

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