Odd Dolphin Behavior

02/27/2011

With the sad news of dozens of dead dolphins being found in the Gulf of Mexico in the last week, most of which have been infants, I thought it would be a good time to celebrate these well-loved creatures here at Animal Oddities.

Dolphins are cetaceans, the group of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.  There are many dolphin species swimming the world's oceans and rivers.  They range in size from orcas, the largest dolphin species that can grow to over 30 feet in length, down to species that only get to be four or five feet long, such as the Commerson's, Chilean, Hector's and tucuxi dolphins. (The smallest cetacean of all is the diminutive and highly endangered porpoise called the vaquita.) 

Some dolphin species have dramatic speckles, stripes and color patterns and some are downright bizarre-looking, like the boto (also known as the Amazon river dolphin) pictured below.

River Dolphin Joachim Muller FLICKR

Dolphins breathe through lungs just like we do.  They inhale and exhale through a blowhole on the top of their heads, which is the equivalent of our nostrils.  Like most highly social animals, dolphins are also highly intelligent and have complex forms of communication.  That intelligence allows them to be creative and invent new behaviors, seemingly just for the fun of it.

Check out this video from SeaWorld about some odd new dolphin behavior that is being observed that seems to be something one dolphin invented as a game and that others then picked up and passed on.  Amazing.

 

Photo of boto by Joachim S. Muller via Flickr Creative Commons.


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >
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