The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin lives in the United States, from the coast of New England, around Florida, and into the Gulf of Mexico. They are found in a variety of habitats from estuaries to coral reefs to shallow sandy shorelines to deep open oceans. Dolphins can tolerate wide temperature variations in their environment, from very cool to very warm. It is the dolphin’s blubber layer, which serves as insulation, that allows them to live in such extreme temperatures.
Dolphins will prey on whatever species of fish is present, using a variety of hunting strategies. With 80 - 100 interlocking teeth, the bottlenose dolphin is a masterful predator that can trap its prey and swallow it whole. Here at Dolphin Connection, each dolphin eats 20—30 pounds of capelin and herring a day!
Many of the behaviors you’ll see the trainers working on with the dolphins are actually medical, or husbandry, behaviors. Designed to make medical check-ups easy, they are also fun and rewarding for the animals. When a trainer is looking inside a dolphin’s mouth, they’re actually giving them a dental exam. When a dolphin is lying on his side, he’s in the perfect position for a veterinarian to perform an ultrasound exam. The dolphins’ health and well-being are always our highest priority as shown by their life spans which exceed those of their wild counterparts.
Did you know that in the United States, dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act? This law states that people must not feed, touch or harass wild marine mammals and recommends maintaining a distance of at least 50 yards from wild dolphins.
Although it might seem kind to offer a free meal to a smiling dolphin, doing so actually trains them to beg which frequently leads to illness and injury. As perfectly adapted predators, the kindest thing we can do for a wild dolphin is to let it hunt for itself, while observing its magnificence from a distance.
Bottlenose dolphins are not endangered, but their habitat is. Keeping our oceans clean and free of trash and toxins will have a major impact on the future health of the habitat and all its inhabitants.
Plastic bags, fishing line and other debris can be ingested by, or entangled around, marine animals.
Love a dolphin. Keep its ocean clean!
In the Gulf of California, the very small body of water separating Baja California from the Mexican mainland, lives a species of porpoise called the vaquita. The vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is among the rarest of all mammals with population estimates in the low hundreds. The decline in population is due primarily to entanglement in fishing gear along the Mexican coast. Dolphin Connection, in partnership with the other members of the Bottlenose Dolphin Breeding Consortium, is looking at ways we can help the vaquita. Through research, financial donations, staff knowledge and supplies, those of us who have already devoted our lives to the health and well-being of animals hope to provide everything we possibly can to bring the vaquita back from the brink.
If you would like to learn more about the endangered vaquita, please visit these websites for information:http://vaquita.tv http://worldwildlife.org/species/vaquita http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/porpoises/vaquita.html
At first glance, the dolphins all look alike. However, if you spent all day, every day, with them the way that we do, you’d start to notice variations in their skin coloration and patterns, differences in body shape and size, and certainly very unique behaviors and vocalizations. The dolphins truly are individuals, and in order to be good care-takers and animal trainers, we need to be able to tell them apart.
What if you were studying wild dolphins and you couldn’t get as close to the dolphins or see them as clearly as we can here at Dolphin Connection? Wild dolphin researchers identify individuals by looking at their tail flukes and dorsal fins. Over the course of their very active lives, the dolphins will develop unique scrape and scar patterns on these appendages which can be used to identify the animals, even in the wild.
No, a dolphin is a mammal just like us. All mammals share the following characteristics: