Dolphin Facts

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Dolphin watching is one of the most enjoyed activities of visitors to Florida's Gulf Coast
This is why we created this page called Dolphin Facts.  It is a great part of Tropical-Island-Getaway's trip.
Don't forget your camera!


Marine biologists say that dolphins love to jump and play in the wake behind mono-hull boats (boats with one-hull.).  Normally dolphins do not jump and play  around catamarans, pontoon boats or sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico (Florida's west coast).  

dolphin picture

Bottlenose dolphins send messages to one another in different ways. They squeak and whistle and use body language—leaping as high as 20 feet (6 meters) in the air, snapping their jaws, slapping their tails on the surface of the water, and even butting heads.
What are they trying to tell each other? They can alert each other to possible dangers, let others know there is food close by, and keep track of others in their group. Nasal sacs in the dolphin’s head are what makes it possible for the dolphins to "talk".

Blow-holes located in their heads open and close, allowing the dolphins to breathe. (Being mammals, dolphins have to come to the water surface to breathe, as people do).


Bottlenose dolphins also have a good sense of hearing. Scientists believe that the sounds travel through the dolphin’s lower jaw to its inner ear and then are transmitted to the brain.

dolphin watch trip

Dolphins probably rank among the most intelligent marine mammals. The bottlenose dolphin gets its name from its bottle-shaped snout.
Bottlenose dolphins typically weigh 440 to 600 pounds and reach an average size of 10 feet (some reach as much as 14 feet).
The exact worldwide population of the bottlenose dolphin is not known. In the eastern tropical Pacific the population is estimated to be 243,500, while in the waters of Japan the population estimates are as low as 37,000.
Bottlenose dolphins often live 40 to 50 years. 
The maximum age for bottlenose dolphins is between 40 and 50 years. The average age a dolphin can get (the life expectancy) can be calculated from the ASR Annual Survival Rate (the percentage of animals alive at a certain point, that is still alive one year later). For the dolphin population in Sarasota Bay , the ASR has been measured to be about 0.961. This yields a life expectancy of about 25 years. For the population in the Indian/Banana River area, the ASR is between 0.908 and 0.931. This yields a life expectance between 10.3 and 14 years. So the actual life expectancy differs per region.
Bottlenose dolphins prefer warm to tropical water.
Dolphins consume 13 to 33 pounds of food each day. They feed on fish, cephalopods (squid and octopus) etc. They use echolocation (bouncing sound off of objects to determine their location) to hunt and use high-pitched clicks to stun their prey.
How do dolphins sleep?
Dolphins have to be conscious to breath. This means that they cannot go into a full deep sleep, because then they would suffocate. Dolphins have "solved" that by letting one half of their brain sleep at a time. This has been determined by doing EEG studies on dolphins. Dolphins sleep about 8 hours day in this fashion.
A dolphin's behavior when sleeping or resting depends on circumstances and individual preferences. They can either:
swim slowly and surface every now and then for a breath
2. rest at the surface with their blowhole exposed
3. rest on the bottom (in shallow water) and rise to the surface now and then to breath
Our sources of information about dolphins behavior:
Williams et al, 1990

[2] S.H Ridgway (1990) The Central Nervous System of the Bottlenose Dolphin, in S. Leatherwood and R.R. Reeves: The Bottlenose Dolphin, pp. 69-97, Academic Press

[2] Th.D. Williams, A.L. Williams and M. Stoskopf (1990) Marine Mammal Anesthesia. In: L.A. Dierauf (ed.): Handbook of Marine Mammal Medicine: Health, Disease and Rehabilitation, pp. 175-191 CRC Press, Boca Raton

[3] R.S. Wells and M.D. Scott (1990) Estimating bottlenose dolphin population parameters from individual identification and capture-release techniques. Report International Whaling Commission (Special Issue 12): 407-415

[3] S.L.Hersch, D.K.Odell, E.D.Asper (1990) Bottlenose dolphin mortality patterns in the Indian/Banana River System of Florida, in S. Leatherwood and R.R. Reeves: The Bottlenose Dolphin, pp. 155-164, Academic Press




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