Five Fun Facts about Dolphins and Where to Spot Them
March is an exciting month. It’s the start of spring, the heart of our local green season and Women’s History Month among other things. What you may not know, however, is that March is also Dolphin Awareness Month. During March, we salute these cetaceans, celebrating their intellect and personality while raising awareness. In addition to their smarts, dolphins are known for their sociable, playful nature, making them one of our most beloved aquatic animals.
Unfortunately, dolphins are particularly vulnerable to hunting and fishing. The also face several threats to their population due to habitat loss, ship strikes, toxic contamination and climate change – all of which are human-caused. We can each do our part to protect these magnificent marine mammals by admiring them from afar, buying sustainable and responsibly-sourced seafood and keeping the oceans clean.
Together, we can ensure that dolphins remain around for years and years to come. Knowledge is the precursor to care, and care leads to action. So, here are a few fun facts about dolphins that may surprise you.
- Dolphins have two stomachs.
Dolphins typically eat more than 30 pounds of fish per day, which makes two stomachs come in handy. One is used for storing food while the other is for digestion. Despite having up to 100 teeth, they swallow their food whole, and all the food gets broken down the digestion stomach.
- Dolphins give birth tail first.
And they are the only known mammal to do so. Dolphins give birth this way to prevent the newborn calf from drowning during the birth, which can take a few hours.
- Dolphins have names.
Scientists have confirmed that dolphins give themselves names, developing distinct whistles for themselves. They can distinguish between their idiosyncratic whistles and those of others.
- Dolphins sleep with half their brain.
Like the rest of us, dolphins do sleep. However, marine mammals risk drowning if they fall into a deep sleep underwater. To prevent this, they sleep with just one half of the brain at a time. They also don’t have REM sleep. Instead, they engage in unihemispheric slow wave sleep. During this kind of sleep, half the brain slumbers while the other half remains awake and alert. One eye remains open and one side of the body remains active as needed to stay afloat and keep warm.
- Dolphins have sensitive skin.
Dolphins have a slick appearance thanks to their skin, which has to be smooth to allow them to swim through the water without any drag. Their skin is very sensitive with many nerve endings. Their skin can be damaged easily by their environment or human touch.
Now that you know a little more about dolphins, you can better appreciate them for the affable, interesting and impressive creatures that they are. They are plentiful throughout the Georgia coast, and we’re lucky to see them quite often in our waters. If you want to catch a glimpse of these intelligent animals leaping through the air and playing in the Atlantic, consider talking a dolphin tour. We recommend Captain Derek’s Tybee Dolphin Adventure. Dolphins like playing next to the boat, so you might even get to see some up close. It’ll be a natural encounter that you’re sure to remember.
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