Learn about Dolphins

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Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins can be found in the warm temperate to tropical regions such as Southern China, South East Asia, Australia and Eastern Africa.

This species inhabits inshore coastal waters, usually forming a group of 2 to 15 individuals although group size can number into the hundreds depending on predation and availability of prey.

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Do you know?

  • All bottlenose dolphins used to be categorized as a single species, the common bottlenose dolphin. In 1998, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was recognized as a separate species based on genetic and some morphological differences including the speckles on the ventral side.
  • Some dolphin populations use tools just like us. Female dolphins teach their offspring specialized techniques such as “sponging” in Shark Bay, Western Australia. This particular pod of dolphins uses conical sponges to protect their rostrums while foraging prey on the sea bed.

Appearance

  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are smaller than the common bottlenose dolphins and have proportionately larger rostrums.
  • The dorsal coloration is dark grey, and ventral coloration is very light grey in juvenile animals. With age, they develop dark speckles on the ventral side.
  • They possess 80 to 110 sharp conical teeth. Their teeth are not for chewing their food, but for grabbing and holding their prey.

Diet

Bottlenose dolphins feed on a wide variety of fishes, squids and crustaceans.

Adaptations

The body of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is streamlined and consists of flippers, tail flukes and dorsal fin which help the animal adapt to an aquatic environment.

Reproduction

  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins become sexually mature at ages varying from 5 to 12 years.
  • They are polygamous; they have multiple mates in a given reproductive season.
  • The average gestation period for a bottlenose dolphin is 12 months.
  • The delivery takes place in water, and usually calves (baby dolphins) are born with their tail first.

Unique features about dolphins

Echolocation: This is one of the most fascinating abilities about dolphins. They project high-frequency sound waves and listen for echoes as the sound waves reflect off objects. The brain receives the sound waves in the form of nerve impulses, which enables the dolphin to interpret the three-dimensional spatial meaning of these sounds.

Major threats

  • Predation by sharks
  • Human consumption
  • Coastal pollution from run-off and sedimentation
  • Sound pollution due to boat traffic

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