A. About Dolphin
Dolphins are marine mammals that are closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin. They vary in size from 1.2 m (4 ft) and 40 kg (90 lb) (Maui's Dolphin), up to 9.5 m (30 ft) and 10 tonnes (9.8 LT; 11 ST) (the Orca or Killer Whale). They are found worldwide, mostly in the shallower seas of the continental shelves, and are carnivores, mostly eating fish and squid. The family Delphinidae is the largest in the Cetacean order, and relatively recent: dolphins evolved about ten million years ago, during the Miocene. Dolphins are among the most intelligent animals and their often friendly appearance and seemingly playful attitude have made them popular in human culture.
Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises, are descendants of terrestrial mammals, most likely of the Artiodactyl order. The ancestors of the modern day dolphins entered the water roughly fifty million years ago, in the Eocene epoch.
Hind Limb Buds on Dolphins. An embryo of a Spotted Dolphin in the fifth week of development. The hind limbs are present as small bumps (hind limb buds) near the base of the tail. The pin is approximately 2.5 cm (1.0 in) long.
Most dolphins have acute eyesight, both in and out of the water, and they can hear frequencies ten times or more above the upper limit of adult human hearing. Though they have a small ear opening on each side of their head, it is believed that hearing underwater is also if not exclusively done with the lower jaw, which conducts sound to the middle ear via a fat-filled cavity in the lower jaw bone. Hearing is also used for echolocation, which all dolphin have. It is believed that dolphin teeth function as an antenna to receive incoming sound and to pinpoint the exact location of an object. The dolphin's sense of touch is also well-developed, with free nerve endings densely packed in the skin, especially around the snout, pectoral fins and genital area. However, dolphins lack an olfactory nerve and lobes and thus are believed to have no sense of smell. They do have a sense of taste and show preferences for certain kinds of fish. Since dolphins spend most of their time below the surface, tasting the water could function like smelling, in that substances in the water can signal the presence of object that are not in the dolphins mouth.
D. Methods of Feeding
One common feeding method of the dolphins is herding, where a pod squeezes a school of fish into a small volume, known as a bait ball. Individual members then take turns plowing through the ball, feeding on the stunned fish. Coralling is a method where dolphins chase fish into shallow water to more easily catch them. In South Carolina, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin takes this further with strand feeding, driving prey onto mud banks for easy access.In some places, Orcas come to the beach to capture sea lions. Some species also whack fish with their fluke, stunning them and sometimes knocking them out of the water.
E. Dolphins Activity
Dolphins occasionally leap above the water surface, sometimes performing acrobatic.
Play is an important part of dolphin culture. Dolphins play with seaweed and play and fight with other dolphins. At times they harass other local creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Dolphins enjoy riding waves and frequently surf coastal swells and the bow waves of boats, at times leaping between the dual bow waves of a moving catamaran. Occasionally, they playfully interact with swimmers.
Generally, dolphins sleep with only one brain, thus maintaining enough consciousness to breathe and to watch for possible predators and other threats. Earlier sleep stages can occur simultaneously in both hemispheres. In captivity, dolphins seemingly enter a fully asleep state where both eyes are closed and there is no response to mild. Respiration is automatic a tail kick reflex. Anesthetized dolphins initially show a tail kick reflex. Though a similar state has been observed with wild Sperm Whales, it is not known if dolphins in the wild reach this state.