Since dolphins swim in the water many people think that they must be fish. However, dolphins are in fact warm-blooded mammals that breathe air and give birth to baby dolphins rather than lay eggs. This fact alone makes dolphins unique creatures, but they also have many more characteristics that make them one of the most interesting animals on the planet.
If you're ever had the opportunity to be near a dolphin you'll understand why they are as unique as they are. Dolphins, just like whales, are considered to be cetaceans and are part of the grouping of whales that are called odontocetes, which means that they have teeth. The teeth found on a dolphin are shaped like cones. Other whales fall into the group called mysticetes, in which case they don't have teeth to use for feeding.
Dolphins live in tropical and warm waters. Many people are unaware of the fact that rivers and freshwaters are also home to few species of dolphins. These dolphins are however endangered and exist in very few numbers.
Fifty-seven different species of dolphin make up the world's population today. Dolphins have sleek bodies and their noses, called "rostrum", are long and beak-like. Many of us think that dolphins and porpoises are related, when in fact they are not. One thing that makes them different is their teeth. As mentioned the dolphin's are cone shaped and the porpoise have teeth that look more like spades. This enables them to dig for food among rock. The other major difference is the fact that porpoise are able to live in water that's colder than a dolphin can even tolerate.
One of the most common and well known species of dolphins is the Orca, also known as the killer whale. This large dolphin is considered to be fearless in the water, dominating the list of sea animals that people think of when they think of ferocious creatures.
Female dolphins are pregnant for twelve months before delivering their babies, or calves as they are known. The calves weigh between 30 and 40 pounds and are about 30 inches long. They will nurse from their mothers until they are two years old.
Unlike other species of animals where the mother gives birth and the young leave her side after a short period of time, the dolphin calf will stay with its mother for five to seven years. During this time the young dolphin will learn many skills from its mother, including how to feed and how to get along with other dolphins.
Dolphins live in groups known as "pods" and travel together. The females interact with the young, while the males keep more to themselves and don't participate in parenting.
The Dolphins are considered very friendly and are amongst the most wonderful animals on earth due to their intelligence and easy mingling with the humans. They try to convey through chirping their tongue whenever they interact with humans. This fact keeps the humans curious about this wonderful animal forever.