Dolphins are mysterious creatures. How much do we really know about them?

Dolphin facts show us that they make up quite a large part of the ocean, traveling in pods by the thousands.

Let’s explore and learn about these beautiful mammals.

Little Known Interesting Dolphin Facts

  • The Bottlenose only uses 50% of its brain at a time.
  • The 2011 heatwave decreased dolphin survival rates by 12%.
  • Bottlenose dolphins eat 2%–4% of their body weight every day.
  • In 2011, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, only 20% of dolphins birthed live calves.
  • Between 1948–2018, one million whales and dolphins died in Japan from hunting alone.
  • Fishing nets may have killed 80% of the Indian Ocean’s dolphins.
  • The Bottlenose dolphin has between 80–100 teeth.

Amazing Facts About Dolphins

Dolphins are some of the most intriguing animals on our planet. They have fascinating characteristics and are surprisingly similar to humans in many ways. Let’s find out more about them.

1. There Are 36 Species of Marine Dolphins Worldwide.

(Source: WWF)

  • There are even freshwater dolphins, four of which can only be found in the Amazon river.
  • The Bottlenose dolphin can reach up to 30 mph, but they usually swim at a leisurely 2 mph. The Dall’s porpoise is fast too, reaching speeds of 34 mph.
  • Fun fact: Dolphins can recognize themselves in the mirror. The only other species that can are apes and us. 

But that’s not all. Here are more fascinating dolphin facts.

2. There Are 44 Dolphin Species.

(Source: 24/7 Wall St.)

  • It’s a challenge to get an exact number of the dolphin population because they travel in pods, typically ranging from 2–30. However, this expands to the thousands during the mating season. 
  • Unfortunately, five dolphin species are on the critically endangered list. But more on the reasons a bit later.
  • We’ve officially lost a dolphin species. In 2007, the Yangtze River dolphin couldn’t survive the rapid Chinese urbanization.

It’s a tragedy, which is why we aim to spread awareness of basic facts about dolphins. Let’s decrease the chances of their extinction in the future. 

What is The Biggest Dolphin?

The largest of the dolphin species is the Orca, better known as the Killer Whale. While the name may be deceiving, this massive animal is part of the dolphin species. Males can reach nearly 32 feet and weigh over 14, 000 lbs. Additionally, females reach around 37 feet and can weigh 10, 300 lbs.

The Bottlenose Only Uses 50% of Its Brain at a Time - dolphin in the sea

3. The Bottlenose Only Uses 50% of Its Brain at a Time.

(Source: WWF)

  • Amazing facts about dolphins tells us that females can stay pregnant between 9–16 months. And we thought nine months was long.
  • South America and Asia are home to four river dolphin species.
  • Small dolphins live around 20 years, but the larger ones can live up to 80 years.

Unfortunately, dolphins’ life spans are significantly reduced by humans. Let’s find out why.

4. The 2011 Heatwave Decreased Dolphin Survival Rates by 12%.

(Source: Giving Compass)

  • The Western Australia 2011 heatwave caused ocean temperatures in the area to rise over four degrees more than average. But this isn’t the only example of climate change impact. 
  • The ocean temperature has increased on average by one degree since the 1900s, and the Great Barrier Reef experienced a 1.2-degree rise. It may sound insignificant, but dolphin behavior facts show a massive impact on their breeding due to little food availability. The heat destroyed 36% of seagrass in the area, killing huge amounts of fish.
  • February 2020 was the hottest month ever recorded in Australia. What’s more, the eight hottest days have all taken place within the past decade. But warmer climates aren’t conducive to most of our planet’s environments, particularly for the ocean, which stocks 90% of the earth’s heat.

The more we take from our planet, the less chance it has of surviving. That’s what dolphin facts related to environmental catastrophes show us.

5. After the 2011 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2011, Only 20% of Dolphins Birthed Live Calves.

(Source: Science Daily)

  • The numbers didn’t improve between 2011–2014. Compared to the 83% success rate of dolphins birthing live calves before the oil spill, it’s no secret what has caused the decline.
  • The overall dolphin survival rate in Barataria Bay was 86.8% compared to 95% in other densely populated dolphin areas.
  • Out of the pregnant dolphins monitored in the four-year study, over 50% had unprecedented severe lung disease. This spill is one example of the water pollution effects. To make things worse, we dump nearly eight million tons of plastic into the ocean every year. By 2050, plastic will weigh more than the fish left in the ocean. 

But it’s not just environmental events that bring up scary dolphin facts.

What Do Dolphins Need to Survive?

Well, let’s state the obvious, they need water. But this water needs to be clean and environmentally sound. This isn’t just because they live in the water, but because their food comes from the sea too. Most importantly, dolphins need one another, they live in pods and rely on each other for social bonds, safety, and mating.

Common Dolphin Facts — Hunting 

As disturbing as it is, dolphins are fished out of the ocean. Let’s explore how and why this happens.

6. Between 1948–2018, One Million Whales and Dolphins Died in Japan.

(Source: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

  • But that’s not all. Between 2000–2016, hunters killed 173,656 dolphins and small whales. 
  • Taiji, Japan dolphin slaughter facts are horrific. 926 dolphins and small whales were taken from the ocean between 2017–2018. If you can stomach it, we highly recommend watching The Cove. It shows the atrocities that take place in this area each year.
  • The 2020/2021 dolphin hunting season in Taiji saw about 547 dolphins killed and 140 were taken captive.
  • The hunting season begins in September and lasts nine months. But due to the increased numbers of killed sea life, some species are now so rare that they’re on a target list. They’re much more expensive and sought after, making the problem even worse.

Sadly, some captivity centers are in on the hunts, inspecting animals that would fare well in their centers. But it’s not only the hunts that are problematic.

7. Fishing Nets May Have Killed 80% Of the Indian Ocean’s Dolphins.

(Source: The Guardian)

  • Dolphin facts show that being accidentally caught in tuna fishing nets accounted for around four million aquatic animal deaths between 1950–2018.
  • As of 2020, these nets catch about 800,000 dolphins annually, and most don’t survive. But we do have one fascinating story to share.
  • Facts about Winter the dolphin show that when found in a crab net in 2005, only two months old, she had no blood circulation to her tail. Well, this fantastic animal survived. Winter now has a prosthetic tail and lives a healthy life with her friend Hope at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Sadly, we can’t have dolphins as pets, but a fish is a pretty close second, plus they’re one of the easiest pets to take care of.

How Many Dolphins Are Left in the World?

As of 2019, there are about 600,000 Bottlenose dolphins. We know there are 44 species of dolphin in the world but sadly five are near extinction which can make getting overall numbers difficult. The yearly dolphin fishing frenzy also doesn’t help.

a group of young dolphins in the sea

Dolphin Intelligence Facts

They’re one of the most intelligent mammals known to man. Here are some fantastic dolphin feats.

8. Bottlenose Dolphin Brains Weigh About 56 Ounces, Ours Are Around 45.

(Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science)

  • Dolphin brain facts show that their brains are bigger, but that doesn’t make them smarter. Still, they’re the second most intelligent mammal on the planet. 
  • Dolphins have a highly complex neocortex. That’s the part of the brain that helps us with self-awareness and problem solving, which adds a lot to dolphin intelligence.
  • Problem-solving has come in handy for dolphins. Up to 60% of female dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, use marine sponges over their snouts to catch prey living in the sand.

Let’s explore more amazing facts about these marine mammals.

Interesting Dolphin Facts

Another intriguing dolphin part is its unique chompers. 

9. The Bottlenose Dolphin Has Between 80–100 Teeth.

(Source: Whale and Dolphin Conservation)

  • But not all dolphins are lucky to have a dazzling smile. Dolphin teeth facts show the Risso’s dolphin only has between 4–14 teeth. 
  • The long-beaked common dolphin can have up to 240 teeth, more than any other of its species.
  • Surprisingly, the attractive dolphin smile isn’t a facial expression. While we have over 40 facial muscles, the dolphin has none. 

Have you ever dreamt of having a dolphin living in your swimming pool, or is it just me? Even our puppies can enjoy a dog swimming pool, but dolphins rely on the ocean — all 139.7 million square miles of it. So, we need to keep it livable for them.

10. A Bottlenose Calf Is Born Between 43.7–45.7 Inches in Length.

(Source: Sea World)

  • Baby dolphin facts reveal that at birth, they weigh between 22–44 pounds. They’re not tiny, but compared to their mom, who can weigh between 400–500 pounds and reach the length of 8.5 feet, they’re still pretty small.
  • The Bottlenose calf stays with its mom for 3–6 years. It might not sound long, but many animals don’t raise their young. For instance, reptiles will lay eggs and slither away.
  • A Bottlenose calf will survive feeding on its mother’s milk for 2–3 years. After that, it’s onto fish and other crustaceans.

Speaking about feeding, here are some dolphin diet facts.

11. Bottlenose Dolphins Eat 2%–4% Of Their Bodyweight Daily. 

(Source: Sea World)

  • A nursing mama eats even more. She can consume as much as 8% of her total body weight each day.
  • Even with all those teeth, dolphins aren’t used to chewing. They swallow fish whole but always headfirst, so the scales won’t catch in their throat. If you’re squirming a little after hearing this, you’re not alone.
  • Bottlenose dolphins will mainly hunt in packs. They find a school of fish and herd them until it’s so tightly bound that it’s easy for the dolphins to swim through and grab as much as they want.

Ready for some action? Here are a few strange facts about dolphins.

Fertile Females Mate With Two or Three Males, Switching Them Every Minute

Dolphin Behavior Facts

Did you know that dolphins have extraordinary sex lives? We’re here to tell you about it, so let’s dive in, pun intended.

12. Fertile Females Mate With Two or Three Males, Switching Them Every Minute 

(Source: Washington Post)

  • It’s a way to ensure that only the strongest will fertilize the egg. And females make it pretty difficult for males to mate with them for the same reason.
  • The males hunt in packs to find a fertile female and fight for their turn to mate. There’s a gang-related term for this, but we’d rather leave that out.
  • Male dolphins will partake in same-sex relations when they’re young. It’s a way to find their “gang” that will later aid them in mating with a female.

Who would have thought that dolphin sex facts could be so spicy?

Wrap Up

All in all, dolphin intelligence makes these creatures pretty unique. We now know there are 44 species of them, but one went extinct in 2007.

Tragic human-caused events have increased marine life’s struggle for survival. Oil spills and rising ocean temperature are forcing five dolphin species near extinction. Hunting, in particular, is a severe threat, but fishing nets are just as fatal.

Still, dolphins are incredibly smart and the second most intelligent mammal after us. Their problem-solving skills are pretty impressive.

The sexual behavior of dolphins contributes to the most intriguing dolphin facts. We can’t wait to see what we’ll learn about these amazing mammals in the future. 


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