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Species of the week: Bottlenose dolphin

Posted by on February 8, 2013

by Pippy Downs, a Year 11 work experience pupil from The Folkestone School for Girls

Bottlenose dolphins are well known for being able to perform complex tricks. They have a friendly, permanent smile from their curved bottle like noses. Most people call them ‘dolphins’ however the scientific family name for dolphins is Delphinidae. They are mammals and contain blowholes located on top of their heads which open and close allowing them to breathe.

A female will normally have one calf every two to three years. They are always born tail first so they avoid drowning. When born, a bottlenose calf is approximately 3 to 4 feet (.9 to 1 meter) long and weighs about 44 pounds (20 kilograms).

Their strength is of course swimming. They can reach speeds of over 18 miles per hour. They often stay close to the surface of the water to breathe. Bottlenose dolphins swim in social groups called pods. A pod usually has a dozen or so animals. In their pods they communicate well. Pods can often expand where they combine with other pods to form herds. Some herds include several hundred dolphins.

The dolphins can make 1,000 clicking noises every second. They use this method to track their prey. It is also known as ‘echolocation’.  Their sounds travel until they reach objects. When the sounds of the clicking hit an object in the water, like a fish or rock, they bounce off and come back to the dolphin sender as echoes. These dolphins mainly live off shrimps and sometimes squid. They can often be spotted chasing fishing boats to try and collect the fish left over.

These intelligent animals are often found in warm tropical waters. They can sometimes become entangled in other fishing nets. They are not however hunted for food themselves.

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