All About Dolphins

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How do dolphins communicate?
Just like dogs, cats, and other mammals — by using sound, vision, touch, and taste. Dolphins don't have the ability to smell, however. Scientists do not think that dolphins have a language like humans. Each dolphin can make a unique signature whistle that may help individual dolphins recognize each other, but it may just help a dolphin know that some other dolphin is nearby. Scientists don't know for sure.

How intelligent are dolphins?
We don't know because no one has given them an intelligence test! Most scientists believe that dolphins are on a level with chimpanzees and dogs. Dolphins can learn to perform certain actions. They learn best when actions are broken into small steps and they are given food or other rewards.

Baby Dolphin Whales

Do dolphins have families?
The structure of dolphin groups (also called herds or pods) is more like that of elephants than humans. In killer whales the social group is formed by a female and her calves — even if they have grown to adults. The fathers of the calves do not live with the pod. We do not know what the social structure is for many kinds of dolphins.

What is echolocation?
Echolocation is a way of using sound to find objects in the environment. Bats use it in the air and dolphins use it in the water.
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To echolocate, the dolphin generates a sound pulse (of clicks) in its forehead which is sent into the water. EcholocationThe sound bounces off objects, creating an echo that returns to the dolphins. We think that dolphins hear the returning echoes by feeling the sound pulses against their jaws. Different objects (like different kinds of fish) give off different kinds of echoes. Dolphins can also judge how far away the object is by the amount of time it takes for the echo to return.

Are all dolphins endangered?
No, all dolphins are not endangered. Neither the bottlenose dolphin nor the killer whale are endangered. However, several of the river dolphins are very endangered because humans have destroyed their habitat. If we humans don't take care of the earth, many more species of dolphins will become endangered in the future.


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