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" All animals except man know that the ultimate of life is to enjoy it" Quote by Samuel Butler 1912.

"Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace". Quote by Albert Schweitzer.

Dolphin jumping.Thanks for waitingDolphinsDolphin jumping. Thanks for waiting

"Dolphins have a universal appeal, symbolizing freedom, joy, grace and serenity , uplifting the spirits of many people all around the world"

wild dolphin leaping
Pushing through green waters
Symbol of joy
You leap from the depths
To touch the sky
Scattering spray
Like handfuls of jewels

Not caged by union rules
Unfettered by sales targets
No trains or planes to catch
Your time is set by the flow
Of the sea's tides
And the moon's glow

You give us images of ecstasy
That we lock away
Behind the doors of memory
For quiet moments
when released from our possessions
We dream of a freedom like yours

Poem by Horace Dobbs


About Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphin

Dolphins are mammals, not fish. They are warm blooded like man, and give birth to one baby called a calf at a time. At birth a bottlenose dolphin calf is about 90-130 cms long and will grow to approx. 4 metres, living up to 40 years.They are highly sociable animals, living in pods which are fairly fluid, with dolphins from other pods interacting with eachother from time to time.

With the help of several beautiful bottlenose dolphins we can see how well the dolphin body is adapted for their life in the ocean

flukesDolphins use their powerful tail flukes in an up and down motion to move through the water. They also use their tails when hunting, hitting a fleeing fish up into the air with their tail, stunning it, then scooping the fish up when it falls back into the water. A dolphin slapping its tail on the water in the wild may be a sign of annoyance, or a warning to other dolphins of danger.

Just how powerful their tail muscles are is demonstrated here tailstand

pectoral fins Their pectoral flippers are used to steer them through the water, and they also use them to stroke one another, increasing the social bond between them. Dolphin "friends" may swim along face to face touching flippers. Dolphins that appear to be closely bonded may swim in synchrony, twisting, turning and swimming in perfect harmony together.

dolphin's face Their teeth are interlocking rows of conical pegs, suitable for holding slippery fish. They eat their fish whole, head first. In the wild an open mouth is a sign of aggression, as is head nodding. A sign of greater aggression is violent jaw clapping.

close up dolphin pic

Dolphins breathe through their blowhole located at the top of their head. A dolphin may empty and refill its lungs in less than a fifth of a second. As the dolphin breathes the air leaves the blowhole at speeds of over 100mph. Complex nerve endings around the blowhole sense pressure changes so the dolphin knows exactly when the blowhole is in or nearing the air and can be opened. Water in a dolphin's blowhole will actually drown it so powerful muscles close the blowhole as it dives under the water again.

beautiful dolphin The dolphin's eyes produce a special slippery secretion which protects the eyes from foreign objects and water friction. To sleep, a dolphin must shut down only half of its brain, as its breathing is under voluntary control. Dolphins take short cat-naps, floating just below the surface, then slowly rising to breathe. Often dolphins are very active during night time, for some this is their main feeding time.

dolphin up close
The dolphin's skin is completely smooth allowing the dolphin to move easily through the water, and also reduce heat loss. Their skin may bear rake marks from other dolphins teeth during play or mating, and can easily become badly sunburnt if they strand. Their bodies are very streamlined so they may swim at high speeds through the water, and an example of this is their ears. Dolphin's ears are barely noticeable marked only by a small hole just behind the eye. In a bottlenose dolphin the ear is about 5-6 cms behind the eye and only 2-3 mm in diameter.

Dolphins are able to dive to great depths, and also leap to great heights. They may leap to avoid predators or to show how powerful they are to females at mating time. Noisy splashing jumps may also be used to herd fish. Bottlenose dolphins can dive to depths of over 1,640 ft (500m).

huge leap
high jumps

The life of a dolphin

Dolphins carry their young inside their womb and gestation is about 12 months for a bottlenose. The baby emerges tail first, and will suckle from its mother for up to 4 years (a calf may stop suckling sooner depending on circumstances).
Mother and calf

The baby will however stay with its mother for between 3-6 years, during which time it learns all about feeding techniques, social interaction and group foraging. Females are likely to stay within the family pod with their mother and sisters, though males will leave and form associations with other males. Dolphins have defined home ranges, an area in which they will roam and feed. Though dolphins live in small groups called pods, these pods can be quite fluid and dolphins can be seen interacting with dolphins from other pods from time to time. If another dolphin is drowning, other dolphins will come to it's aid, supporting it with their bodies so it's blowhole is above the water allowing it to breathe. Dolphins main predators are sharks and unfortunately man, through direct killing for food,netting, pollution, and fishing. Dolphins spend a large part of their day looking for food, or actually feeding. They may either hunt alone, or together as a pod. They use their echolocation (sonar system) to locate fish by sending out a stream of pulses and clicks. Dolphins communicate with eachother by whistling or body language. When a baby is first born, some dolphin research suggests a mother dolphin will whistle to it constantly, imprinting her sound on the baby so it will recognize her, and the baby learns to develop its own signature whistle. It is thought that each dolphin has its own individual signature whistle, just like a name.


The past

We all love to see dolphins and for many people the only way in the past to do this was by visiting an aquarium. However aquariums varied in their care and housing of the dolphins in the past, and some may have been quite substandard. And tragically, in the past many of these dolphins were mostly violently captured from the wild, taken away from their families and forced to live in small barren tanks. Records show that at least 2700 bottlenose dolphins have been taken into captivity worldwide. Statistics I have read (from Dolphin Project Europe) say that 53% of captive dolphins who survived the violent capture died within 90 days. And that half of all captured dolphins died within their first two years of captivity. Those that did survive longer lasted an average of only 5 years. Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity used to die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses. Thankfully a number of countries have now stopped or reduced the capture of wild dolphins and knowledge and conditions are vastly improving but not everywhere. There are still many countries where conditions for captive dolphins are well below standard. You may be shocked to hear that there may still be travelling road shows involving hauling dolphins and sealions around from city to city in lesser developed countries, or of a dolphinarium open to the public during the daytime, while at night a discotheque with loud thumping music. These are just two examples, in less developed countries particularly there may be many more.

"When a thing exists which you really abhor, I wish you would remember a little whether in letting it strictly alone are you minding your own business on principle, or simply because it is comfortable to do so". Quote by John Galsworthy.

No more concrete prisons -

Photo taken and copyright by Eric Demay. Thankyou Eric.
I am as a dolphin born, into a concrete pool
Who has never known anything better,
yet yearns for open sea
Perhaps a seabird's feather,
once landed in my pool
And instinct knew the odour,
of the place where I should be.....
By Laurence Frost

Even lonely, they're friendly,
teaching trainers, performing hoop-jump,
nose-balancing acts.
Easy to believe this animal spends its life at play.
That something dies
when ocean whispers behind the wall.

Copyright Scott Starbuck, thanks Scott!

"It is the dolphin's birthright to swim in a straight line in the ocean as far as it's heart desires". Quote by Ric O'Barry.

wild dolphin

Towards the future

Now days, things are thankfully not as bleak. In Australia and several other countries it is now illegal to catch or import any more dolphins for captivity, and standards of care and housing are high. One day we hope no dolphins anywhere around the world will ever have to live in very small barren concrete tanks without proper care again. There are also many opportunities to view dolphins in the wild now, in the ocean, without keeping the dolphins in small concrete tanks. Many people look to a future of coastal marine reserves rather than concrete tanks. Here, the dolphins could be free to come and go as they pleased, choosing whether they wanted to make contact with humans or not. Instead of performances for food, the dolphins would not need to perform. Humans could observe the dolphins in their natural environment, carrying out natural behaviors, not under cue of a human. Regulations would ensure the dolphins were not harmed or stressed by humans.

To Page 2: Wild dolphins around the world and the amazing Fungie

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Copyright Details

Copyright (C) 2000 S. Kirby. You may download my own dolphin photos for your own desktop,print them out to view, and use them in school projects. Sorry,you may NOT use them or any IDW photos commercially, or on another web page. Sally Kirby.

IDW cartoon
Reference-Highly recommended "Dolphins and their power to heal" by Amanda Cochrane and Karena Callen
Images & text Copyright Sally Kirby 1997. Last updated 20.9.97.
Thanks to our great serverSWIS
Cartoon (C) IDW by Rico