Bottlenose dolphins receive an A+ in my animal grade book! The most studied of all whale and dolphin species both in the wild and captivity, these beautiful, blue-grey creatures attract humans because of their friendly, playful manners.
These large, lively fish inhabit cold, coastal waters and rocky bays. Frequently, they swim in waters less than 100 feet deep, where they can see and prey on small schools of fish. Specifically, bottlenose dolphins survive on a diet of salmon, capelin, anchovy, squid, and shrimp.
The more comfortable and familiar dolphins are in their habitat, the easier it is for them to find food. Dolphins hunt in groups, which involves extensive communication and teamwork. For example, they make clicking sounds and whistling noises to signal to one another. If one must hunt alone, however, it can slam its prey into the sandy sea bottom using its 330-605 pound body.
Bottlenose dolphins also have a unique reproductive process. After mating during the spring and summer seasons, the female dolphin's gestation period lasts between 10 and 12 months. When she finally gives birth, the baby dolphin—called a calf—exits tail first, a movement which automatically breaks its umbilical cord. The mother then pushes her baby to the water's surface for air, otherwise the calf may die. Mothers nurse their calves for 12 to 18 months.
Many people may not know that the bottlenose dolphin often views its world through sound, rather than sight. Similar to bats, this species has an outstanding sense of hearing. In fact, some captive dolphins have been taught human language through sound and gesture. Few dolphins have even demonstrated the ability to comprehend grammar rules and basic sentences.
Humans are able to interact with dolphins at a variety of places including aquariums and Sea World locations across the country. If you ever have the chance, see if you can befriend one of these amazing aquatic beauties!
[Source: Wildlife Explorer]