Characteristics of dolphins
The dolphin, known as one of the most sympathetic, fun and intelligent mammals in the animal kingdom, belongs to the odontocete family of cetaceans, which means that, in addition to being a mammal adapted to aquatic life, it has teeth instead of teeth. Baleen characteristic of other types of cetaceans, as in the case of whales.
What do dolphins eat?
In the first stage of their life, dolphins feed only on mother’s milk , which has the fats, nutrients and proteins necessary for the little one to grow and develop until they reach adulthood, in which they will be separated from their mother. in search of their own food.
Dolphins, in their adult stage , are carnivorous animals , which means that they base their diet on the consumption of meat. However, the choice of its prey depends mainly on the oceanic region it inhabits, although it also varies depending on the species of dolphin in question. Thus, while some species of dolphins prefer small fish such as cod, herring or mackerel , some others prefer squid, cephalopods and crustaceans .
Those larger dolphins, such as orcas , feed on marine mammals , seals, sea lions, penguins, turtles, and even gray whales.
Generally, the amount of food that a dolphin consumes daily corresponds to 10% of its body weight , so that a dolphin with an average weight of 200 kg will need to eat approximately 20 kg of fish every day, while species of greater corpulence like the killer whale will need around 500 kg of meat daily.
In addition, the percentage of fat, protein and nutrients provided by each prey must be taken into account, since, while mackerels or herring have high amounts of fat, squid barely provide this sustenance, and therefore, they should be consumed in greater quantity.
For the search, capture and hunt for food, dolphins use different methods , which, due to their ingenuity, do not leave any of the species on the seabed indifferent:
- Through echolocation , a technique in which the animal emits a sound, so that when it reaches a solid object it produces a bounce known as an “echo” that allows it to calculate distances, they are able to guide themselves and even determine the size of its prey in depths of up to 50 meters in which there is hardly any light.
- The grazing , is a technique frequently used in dolphins cooperate, so that while some of them surround a school of fish in order to limit the space and prevent their escape one intrudes into the bank and feed them , while the rest continue swimming around to prevent them from dispersing.
- Aquaplanning , consists of dragging their prey into shallow waters, such as the shores of beaches, where the fish can hardly move easily and thus be able to devour them. A similar technique is to create a mud curtain to prevent your victim from escaping.
- The killer whales use other types of more aggressive methods, such as hitting the ice banks to unbalance their prey and make them fall into the sea or hitting the fish with their tails to stun them.
Dolphins are social animals that live in family groups known as pods. The care and protection established in these social groups is another proof of their amazing intelligence, given that they are benevolent and compassionate in the care of sick and injured species, as well as protective in the case of pregnant females and are even capable of showing learning behaviors and transmission to their offspring, cases in which mothers teach their offspring the use of tools, specifically, they show them how to cover their snouts with sponges to avoid damaging their snouts when looking for food.
Regarding their habitat, we must know that dolphins are found in all the world’s oceans , establishing their distribution based on the availability of resources, as well as the subspecies to which they belong.
Two major groups stand out, the marine dolphins and the oceanic dolphins , which include the vast majority of known species. In this way, it is known that some species such as the bottlenose dolphin inhabit all the warm and temperate seas and oceans of the planet, avoiding only the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. Other species prefer temperate seas, such as the striped dolphin, or the gray dolphin, the latter being located in deeper areas, full of canyons and steep areas, while orcas are located in cold areas far from the equator.
In turn, there is a third special group in which there are freshwater species that inhabit the mouths of rivers and river courses. However, this fact does not occur in all rivers, although it is common to find it in some regions of India (Ganges) and South America (Amazon).