Dolphin; Nature in Focus
This week in Eco Companion’s Nature in Focus, we shift the spotlight to the Dolphin – you’ll dolphinitely want to stick around!
All puns aside, the dolphin is a worldwide favorite as well as a favorite here at Eco Companion.
Belonging to the infraorder Cetacea, dolphins include Delphinidae (the oceanic Dolphins), Platanistidae (the Indian River Dolphins), Iniidae (the new world river Dolphins), and Pontoporiidae (the brackish Dolphins), and the extinct Lipotidae (baiji or Chinese River Dolphin). In total, there are roughly 40 members belonging to this group. Although normally seen on popular tv and movies as small, Dolphins can range in size from 1.7m to 9.5m. Additionally, they can weigh as little as 50kg or as much as 10t (the Killer Whale – yes, it is a Dolphin). Dolphins are carnivorous and feed on fish, squid, and crustaceans. On average, a Dolphin weighing 117kg could consume up to 14kg a day of fresh fish and squid – no problem.
Dolphins are well known for their high intelligence, playful behavior, and live/hunt together in ‘Pods’ that can include up to 1,000 Dolphins. Some scientists and marine wildlife experts have compared the brain of a Dolphin to that of an ape – which puts its EQ high in the order of non-human species. Furthermore, the evolution of their ‘large’ brains is seen by scientists as similar to our brain’s evolution. Recent research suggests that some Dolphins (not all) have a dynamic, evolving, and complex communication system; can transmit learning to different generations of Dolphins; and show signs of having empathy which further suggests that they can experience emotions such as joy or sadness.
Unfortunately, not all Dolphins have the same outlook. Word wide these amazing mammals face a plethora of issues from human activity. Entanglement from commercial fishing operations; habitat loss via dam construction, boat traffic, and seaside property development; harvest issues – documented in detail via the documentary ‘Cove’; as well as issues stemming from water pollution.
Currently, the top 5 endangered Dolphins include the Maui’s Dolphin (listed as critically endangered), which lives off the New Zealand coast. Experts estimate only 50 of these Dolphins are left.
Hector’s Dolphin is next and is listed as endangered. Also living near the coasts of New Zealand, entanglement and habitat loss are the biggest risks for this Dolphin.
The Indus and Ganges River Dolphins are also listed as endangered by the IUCN and some experts fear that a small population in China may have already gone extinct in 2016. Populations have been declining due habitat destruction due to dam construction, entanglement, pollution, and deliberate killing for human consumption.
Sadly, the Baiji Dolphin is already thought to be extinct. Due to human activity especially – dam creation -this river Dolphin is already thought to have perished.
If you want to help or are interested in seeing these magnificent marine mammals in person, please check out our
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