Dolphin Facts dolphin watch trip Egmont Key Boat Trip

Dolphin Watch

Snorkeling & Shells


Dolphin watching is one of the most enjoyed activities of visitors to Florida's Gulf Coast
Dolphin Facts Page Three


Because dolphins are mammals, they must breathe air and maintain a high body temperature.  The  internal temperature, between 97.9 deg to 99 deg F, is achieved by a thick layer of blubber under the skin.  Air is breathed through blowhole, situated almost directly on top of the head.  The dolphin normally comes to the surface to breathe about every two minutes,  and each breath consists of a short, almost  explosive exhalation, followed by a slightly longer inhalation.  Dolphins can hold their breath for up to several minutes and are capable of rapid and deep dives of more then 1,000 ft.


Dolphins once were hunted commercially, especially for the small quantity of valuable oil extracted from parts of the head and used to lubricated delicate watch mechanisms.  Cheaper oils have now been found from other sources, and dolphins are no longer hunted for this reason.   Many dolphins, however, become accidentally trapped and drowned in tuna nets.  Between the years 1959 and 1972 an estimated 4.8 million dolphins died this way.   Because of the pressure from animal rights activists and United States consumers, both domestic and international tuna canners have refused to accept shipments from fishing fleets that do not protect dolphins.  The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, amended in 1988 and 1992, was passed to prevent exploitation of dolphins and related aquatic animals. 

dolphin jumping

Captive dolphins, mostly the bottle-nose dolphin, has provided us with the reproductive behavior studies.  Mating normally occurs during the spring months, like with most animals, with the male-female pair exhibiting courtship for some time prior to the actual mating.  A female dolphin has to carry her baby (calf) for 11-12 months.  The calf is delivered normally tail first, and the newborn is capable of swimming and breathing within the first minutes.  Some mothers have been observed raising the calf to the surface, as if to help it, but dolphins apparently play in this fashion with a variety of objects, living or not.  This kind of play may have helped the stories heard round the world of how dolphins have helped humans when they have been lost at sea, helping them get to the surface and to stay there.

dolphin facts

The calf will follow its mother closely, and suckling takes place frequently, with the mother tolling slightly and the calf nuzzling the mammary area.  The dolphin's two mammary glands open into a pair of sacs on either side of the anal opening, and the calf's beak fits into the openings on the sacs.  The nipple is grasped between the upper jaw and the tongue, and muscular contractions by the mother literally squirt mil into the calf's mouth.  Nursing may continue for as long as 12 to 18 months after birth, although weaning is probably slowed or inhibited in captive animals.

Dolphins are extremely and almost constantly vocal.  They are capable of two kinds of sounds.  A specialized mechanism in the nasal passages just below the blow-hole enables them to emit short, pulse-type sounds.  These sounds, called clicks, can be produced in such rapid succession as to sound like a buzz or even a duck like quack.   The clicks are used as a form of sonar, in which echoes of sounds from surrounding objects enable the animals to detect obstacles, other dolphins, fish, and even tiny bits of matter in the water.  The military uses dolphins and this ability to help them find water mines.  This ability is termed ECHOLOCATION.  Some Scientists have speculated that dolphins also use the sounds to deliver an acoustic shock for stunning of killing small prey.


 Dolphin Facts page one

Dolphin Facts page two