Dolphin Guide

You will find here information about the three species present in the Ionian sea and a list of basic facts about dolphins.

Dolphin Guide

Dolphin species that we encounter most often in order of frequency

Striped Dolphin

These lively little guys, in contrast to the Common dolphins, are a little more highly strung, they enjoy exuberant aquabatics, although the Common dolphins also jump and leap. Also known as breaching, the Striped dolphin is a real show off, if they are in the mood, mood being the operative word.

If they are in a bad mood or feeling sulky, then they can tend to dive a lot and dart around not being so friendly as the Common dolphins, however when they are in a good mood they are great, they come and jump and seem to enjoy the squeals of delight from the on looking passengers, but hey these are wild animals and like humans they have a different mood every day. As you can see in the photo below this is classical behaviour of the Striped dolphin showing off. You can just about see the pale grey stripe down the side of the dolphin, hence the name. They grow to about the same size as the Common dolphins and happily socialize with them, most likely the two species interact because they are the same size and no threat to each other. You will not see Striped dolphins in captivity as they refuse to eat, go on hunger strike and die very quickly in captivity, that’s how strong their little characters are, they refuse to be broken and trained, these are true free spirits of the sea.

Bottlenose Dolphin

This species are much larger than the Common and Striped dolphins, typically twice their size, quite friendly although the two smaller species tend to make themselves scarce when Bottlenose dolphins are in the area. We, as crew, often assume that if a trip is going a long time without seeing a dolphin, that Bottlenose dolphins are in the area, and are proved right time and again. They are friendly dolphins but seem less interested in people and they'd rather get on with their own thing, they are largely indifferent to the presence of people, which is a contradiction to the fact that this species is the most popular for captivity in dolphinariums. The photo below is classic of their social behaviour, one dolphin will jump and another will come up as if to catch it on their nose, no-one knows why they do this but it has been seen many times when observing them.

Common Dolphin

Don’t be fooled by the name, the Common dolphin is one of the most beautiful of the cetaceans with clear and defined markings. They have a chocolate brown back and fin which leads down to a triangle on the side of their body, like the shape of the dorsal fin being mirrored, then a distinctive yellowing in front and grey behind, a sort of hour glass shape and very defined dark lines leading from the beak back towards the eyes, a bit like eyeliner makeup. This species is very friendly and is happy to come and investigate the boat and passengers, they are curious of human noises. Yes the dolphin has a heightened sense of awareness and can hear every noise you make on our boat with the use of their natural inbuilt sonar. They grow to the size of a fully grown man in length and width and they socialize in pods varying from 3 to 30. A much laid back, chilled out, relaxed and sociable species of dolphin. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in their population due to overfishing.

Basic Facts About Dolphins

1. Dolphins are mammals
As all mammals, dolphins nurse their young from mammary glands.

2. Dolphins can swim up to 260 m. below the surface of the ocean
However they are mainly shallow divers as they need to reach the surface to breathe.

3. Dolphins can stay up to 15 minutes under water
They only do this sometimes as they usually stay only a few minutes diving before reaching the surface for air.

4. Dolphins use a technique called echolocation
This technique uses the same principles of radar and it is used to find food and navigate.

5. Dolphins are social beings
Dolphins live in groups and cooperate with each other for activities like getting food and calf rising.

6. Dolphins are Cetaceans
There are 32 species of ocean dolphins and 5 species of river dolphins.

7. The largest dolphin is the Orca, also known as “killer whale”
Orcas grow up to 6.1 meters long and they are named as whales because their size, but they really belong to the toothed cetacean family just like dolphins do.

8. The most popular dolphin is the “bottlenose dolphin”
Bottlenose dolphins are the ones we have seen in TV series, movies and aquatic shows. Bottlenose dolphins can grow up to 2.5-2.8 meters.

9. Dolphins are warm-blooded
As mammals, dolphins are warm blooded and their internal temperature is around 36 degrees. To conserve this temperature they are surrounded by a thick layer of fat called “blubber” just below the skin.

10. The botllenose dolphin brain weighs 1500-1600 grams
While average human brain weighs 1200-1300 grs. This is not a conclusive evidence of dolphin intelligence, as many other factors might be the cause of intelligence according to scientists.

11. Dolphins communicate efficiently
Dolphins can make a unique signature whistle, which may help individual dolphins recognize each other, collaborate and perform several other kinds of communication.

12. Dolphins can swim 5 to 12 kilometers per hour
This will depend on the species and situation, although fastest dolphins can reach up to 32 km/h.

13. Dolphins breath air like we do
However, they have an amazing ability to hold their breath for up to 8 minutes depending on the size of the animal and it’s lungs, for example a Common or Striped dolphin (explanations below) will typically dive for food for up to 5 minutes, whereas a Bottlenose dolphin, much larger may dive for 15 minutes and an Orca, the largest of the dolphins can dive for nearly an hour because their lungs are bigger.

14. Dolphins are visible to us
They spend most of their time on the surface because they are air breathing mammals. Also it is part of their social structure and natural behavior; they participate in the activity of jumping and splashing or sometimes swim just below the surface only revealing the very tip of their fin. It is our job to recognize the signs of dolphin presence for up to 5 miles away with our high tech binoculars. We very rarely see a dolphin, but we see a sign of dolphin activity and that’s how we find them.

Read 6769 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 19:01

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