A dolphin is considered one of the smartest of all creatures. It lives in warm, shallow waters. A dolphin is a marine mammal--it has live babies, it breathes air and female dolphins provide milk for their young. Dolphins can be 4 to 10 feet long and can weigh 500 pounds. They are social creatures, living in groups called pods. They rely on each other to find food and for company. They speak to each other with clicks and squeaks. When sharks and killer whales come near a dolphin, the dolphin will play dead, hoping its enemies will find something else to dine on.
What They Eat
Dolphins are mostly meat eaters. They feast on fish, squid and shrimp, and occasionally sea plants. The adults can eat 14 pounds of fish a day. The killer whale and the false killer whale, named because of its similarities to the more well-known killer whale, also eat other marine mammals.
How They Hunt
Dolphins have very good eyesight, although they also use their hearing to navigate their way around the ocean water. Dolphins, like other toothed whales, use echolocation to find food. They will make short clicks and listen for the echoes, which reveals the location of the fish. Dolphin pods will chase fish, sometimes swimming nearly 25 miles per hour, before encircling a school of fish. As the pod keeps tight control of the fish, individual dolphins will swim into the school and take turns eating. Dolphins will also chase fish into shallow water. This is called corraling, and it helps the dolphins to capture the fish easier. Bottlenose dolphins will sometimes drive fish onto muddy banks for capture. Some dolphins will use their flukes to stun their prey, sometimes flipping them out of the water.
- Jennifer Beasley