The Clicking Sounds of Common Dolphins Echo Across the Sea
by Kiara Lee, age 13
Dolphins inhabit many of the world's oceans from as far north as Iceland, Nova Scotia and Japan, to far south as Chile and New Zealand. They are found in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and the Black Sea. They surround themselves in large family herds that can have thousands of members. The common dolphin is a sleek, muscular, intelligent and curious animal, but can also be a deadly predator.
It weighs about 250 pounds and can grow up to eight feet long. Its color transitions from a gray backside to a white belly. Its narrow mouth is filled with sharp conical teeth that are used for hooking and holding a hold on to slippery fish. The dolphin navigates through the water whipping its strong tail. The dolphin can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour.
The dolphin is also a highly effective predator, and ha several organs designed to find prey in a unique process called echolocation. It starts by sending unique fast clicking sounds to detect its food. These sounds start in the dolphin's nasal passage. The sounds then travel to a fatty deposit on the dolphin's forehead, called the melon. The melon sends sound pulses into the ocean. When these pulses hit the dolphin's prey, they create an echo that bounces back to the dolphin. The echo is amplified through a second fatty deposit in the dolphin's jaw. From this seemingly complicated process, the signal goes the ears and up to the brain to interpret the signals. The dolphin then locates its prey.
These unique features only further prove the dolphin’s amazing intelligence.
[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]