Dolphin Research

Basic Dolphin Facts

These facts came about due to research for my character on the Harper’s Tale Multi-User Virtual Environment. I no longer portray a Dolphineer within this virtual world, representing Pern, but the facts and links are still very interesting.

Social

  • Dolphins, in general, are the only species besides humans who mate for ‘fun’ and not just procreation.
  • Pods are usually half a dozen or less unless in deep ocean, then they are larger.
  • They can mate with any other species of dolphins and produce live young.

Hunting

  • They feed on fish at any depth.
  • They get stranded because they rather herd fish to shallower water for easy hunting.
  • Dolphins WILL attack sharks when threatened, and often can kill them. The dolphins organize multiple males to attack at once.

Swimming

  • They can have bursts of speed up to 17mph, no dolphin generally exceeds 22mph, except the spotted dolphins have reached 25mph. On average Bottlenose dolphins swim at 10mph or so.
  • Dolphins ‘run’ by leaping out of the water and spending as little time in the water as possible.

Diving

  • They consistently dive to 300m (1000 feet).
  • They can hold their breath for 6-7 minutes.
  • Their circulatory system and muscles can store much more oxygen. A genetic change to the dolphin anatomy over time.
  • They have a collapsible rib cage, air from the lungs is forced into the passages leading to its blowhole, the lining of the lung thickens, and the heartbeat slow downs while it dives.
  • Their internal organs are all within one protected region so that when diving the blood vessels form a net around the organs feeding them oxygen.

Breathing

  • They can breath in less than a 30th of a second. That is surface, open their blow hole, expel air, take in new air, and close the blow hole.
  • They exchange 80% of the gases in their lungs at each breath, while human exchange rate is 30%.

Other Links – compiled by others

  • If you aren’t already, you should subscribe to MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET, the Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion group.
  • alt.animals.dolphins, the dolphin focused news group.
  • NOAA
  • Pursuing a Career in Marine Mammal Science? – then check out this great page prepared by Jeanette Thomas & Daniel Odell. It covers everything from graduate studies to teaching aids and materials.
  • Whale-Watching Web – Helsinki’s whale-watching web site with regional information on whale watching
  • WhaleNet – an educational BB with whale-watching information, data recording protocols, and data base.
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – this server has information on endangered species, Federal aid, wildlife law, and a limited wildlife species data base (although no info on cetaceans)
  • Protected Marine Species – a super page from Wesley R. Elsberry which has some great links to several research projects at Texas A&M, including the Texas M.M. Stranding Network.

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