White-faced dolphin — mammal, family of toothed whales from the order of cetaceans. There are more than 40 varieties of these animals on earth. Dolphins live mainly in tropical and subtropical areas, but there are also those species that prefer the coolest waters. Thanks to this, you can see them even close to the cold Arctic.
Origin of the species and description
The body of the animal is very dense, the back is dark or gray, contrasting with the light sides. There is a short snow-white or light gray tail. The larynx and belly of the dolphin are white, the dorsal fin is high and protrudes well above the surface of the water. There is a large bright spot behind the dorsal fin.
Typical behavior of the animal can be described as active:
- movements are fast and energetic, dolphins jump high and often out of the water, amusing others with their behavior ;
- animals love to accompany passing ships, gliding along the bow wave in full view of passengers and crew;
- usually gather in flocks and are found in groups of up to 28 or more individuals, from time to time forming large herds of 200 or more individuals.
For catching fish, dolphins can organize themselves into mixed herds with similar subspecies. It can be a mixture of Atlantic and white-sided dolphins. Sometimes animals can accompany large whales, sharing prey with them and using them as protection for their cubs.
Appearance and features
The length of an ordinary dolphin ranges from 1.5 to 9-10 m. The smallest animal in the world is the Maui species, which lives near New Zealand. The length of this miniature female does not exceed 1.6 meters. The largest inhabitant of the deep sea is an ordinary white-faced dolphin, its length is more than 3 meters.
The largest representative of this class is the killer whale. The length of these males reaches 10 m. Males are usually 10-20 cm larger than females. Animals weigh on average from 150 to 300 kg, a killer whale can weigh a little more than a ton.
The upper body area behind the dorsal fin and rounded sides are grayish-white, the belly of the animal has a bright white color. And on top of the back, in front of the dorsal fin, the dolphin has a grayish-black color. The dorsal fin and flippers are also bright black. The white-faced dolphin’s beak is traditionally white, but sometimes ash gray.
Video: White-faced dolphin
Dolphins are relatives of whales, so they can stay underwater for a long time. Only occasionally do animals float to the surface of the water and take a breath of air. During sleep, animals float to the surface of the ocean to inhale intuitively, without even waking up. The dolphin is considered the smartest mammal on the planet.
The weight of the brain of this mammal is 1.7 kg, which is 300 grams. more human, they also have 3 times more convolutions than humans. This fact can explain the highly developed social behavior of the animal, the ability to compassion, the readiness to help unhealthy and injured individuals or a drowning person.
Moreover, animals help quite rationally and reasonably. If one relative is wounded and does not hold well on the surface of the sea, dolphins will support him so that the sick person cannot drown or choke. They do the same when saving a person, helping a drowning person to reach a safe shore. It is impossible to explain such reasonable actions by caring for the population. So far, scientists cannot interpret the friendly behavior of white-faced dolphins in any way, but most of all it looks like reasonable conscious compassion and adequate assistance to the victim in difficult situations.
Where does the white-faced dolphin live?
Under natural conditions, white-faced dolphins live in almost all the seas and oceans of the planet. But most of all they are counted in the cold Barents Sea, where their number reaches more than 10 thousand individuals.
Animals live in packs, the number of individuals in one pack can reach up to 50 members. Females with their cubs gather in separate flocks, capable of protecting the life of the younger generation from predators. Animals do not separate themselves into different subspecies. Individuals of different species, color and body shape can live in one flock. These can be Atlantic, white-sided species, etc.
The behavior of dolphins is characterized by frequent jumping out of the water to a great height. Animals feed on small fish, shellfish, crustaceans and other seafood that leaves no one hungry. Animals can arrange a friendly collective hunt, driving a flock of fish into a sea gorge or in shallow water and enjoying their prey to their heart’s content in a kind of underwater dining room. Dolphins reach sexual maturity at 7-12 years of age. Females carry cubs for about 11 months. The life expectancy of individuals is no more than 30-40 years.
What does the white-faced dolphin eat?
The diet of the white-faced dolphin contains all the fish products that are abundant in the world’s oceans. They do not disdain shrimp or squid, they like to eat large or small fish, they can even hunt small birds. While fishing, dolphins can use various methods, including collective ones.
To do this, intelligent animals do the following:
- send scouts in search of a fish school;
- surround the school of fish on all sides, and then feed;
- they drive fish into shallow water, and then they catch them and eat them.
Character and lifestyle features
Many representatives of the dolphin family, such as bottlenose dolphins, white-faced, white-sided species, usually live in salty sea depths. But there are species that feel great in fresh water, living in large lakes and rivers. The river white-faced dolphin species is found in the Amazon and Orinoco – large American rivers, it has also been seen in the waters of Asia.
Due to increasing pollution of the natural habitat, populations of river dolphin species begin to decrease. Therefore, they are listed in the Red Book and protected by law.
Social structure and reproduction
Scientists have proven that all varieties of dolphins use sign language to communicate with each other. These can be jumps or turns, movements of the head or fins, peculiar wagging of the tail, etc.
Smart animals can also communicate with each other using special sounds. The researchers counted more than 14 thousand different sound vibrations, similar to songs. The songs of dolphins on the coast of the oceans of the world are legendary and fairy tales are composed.
The hearing aid of dolphins can perceive up to 200,000 sound vibrations per second, when humans perceive only 20,000.
Animals are good at separating one sound signal from another, easily dividing it into separate frequencies. With the help of various ultrasonic vibrations, animals can transmit important information to each other under water over long distances. In addition to songs, individuals can make crackling, clicking, creaking, whistling.
Dolphins can warn their fellows of danger, report the approach of a large school of fish, males call females to mate. Individuals transmit a huge amount of necessary and useful information to each other in the depths of the ocean, using the conductive echo abilities of water.
There are two types of sounds made by dolphins:
- Echolocation or echo of sounds made ;
- Sonar or the sounds themselves produced by an individual;
- Researchers counted more than 180 different sounds in which syllables, words, phrases and even different dialects could be clearly distinguished.
Females reach their sexually mature level at the age of 5 years and become full-fledged adults, able to conceive and bear offspring. Males mature a little longer and get the ability to fertilize only by 10 years of their life. Animals can create married couples, but cannot be faithful for a long time, therefore, after the appearance of offspring, couples break up.
Usually, dolphin births occur in the summer season. During childbirth, the female tries to stay close to the surface of the water in order to immediately push the baby into the air and take the first breath. The baby is always born alone, has a size of up to 500 cm. The mother feeds him with milk for up to 6 months, guarding and protecting him from all kinds of enemies. In the first month of life, dolphins do not sleep at all, and the mother is forced to observe their behavior around the clock, taking care of the safety of her offspring.
Natural enemies of white-faced dolphins
The main sources of threat to white-faced dolphins are people, their livelihoods and methods of capture. Great harm to the dolphin population is caused by industrial emissions of chemical waste, which are often dumped by negligent owners directly into the sea.
A peaceful, large and active animal has virtually no natural enemies. Some mammals die when caught in fishing nets along with fish. Sharks can attack baby dolphins, trying to recapture the baby from their mother and feast on the tender meat of the baby dolphin. But such attempts are rarely crowned with success, since the dolphin is able to give a worthy rebuff to any opponent, and relatives will not remain indifferent and will help in an unequal struggle.
Despite the fact that dolphins are not hunted and not caught on a huge scale, in some countries the capture of these animals for subsequent use in the food industry and for commercial use is allowed.
Species population and status
The exact number of white-faced dolphins living in the seas and oceans of the world is unknown. Approximately the population is 200-300 thousand individuals. The white-faced dolphin lives most of all in the following zones:
- in the North Atlantic;
- in the adjacent seas of the Davis Strait and Cape Cod;
- in the Barents and Baltic Seas;
- in the south of the coastal waters of Portugal;
- found in Turkey and the coastal waters of the Crimea.
Adult representatives of the white-faced species are in a fairly stable position. The white-faced dolphin is listed in the Red Book as a rare and little-studied natural phenomenon that needs protection and protection.
White-faced dolphin conservation
Recently, in the last century, dolphins were actively hunted. They were exterminated throughout their habitat. This led to the partial destruction of several species of these unique animals. Today, capture is carried out not for industrial or food purposes, but for captivity.
Clever artistic animals are able to arrange whole performances, amusing children and adults with their peaceful and cheerful behavior. But in captivity, dolphins cannot live long, only 5-7 years, although in nature they live up to 30 years.
Several important factors influence the decrease in the lifespan of a dolphin:
- low animal activity;
- limited pool space;
- unbalanced diet.
Communication with such peaceful and interesting animals as dolphins, can be not only interesting, but also useful.
Today, all sorts of interesting and successful experiments are being carried out to cure childhood autism, cerebral palsy and other mental illnesses through communication with dolphins. In the process of communication between an animal and a sick child, the general stabilization and improvement of the psychological state of the baby occurs.
It can be hoped that in the near future the white-faced dolphin will not become a rare endangered species of animals, will delight children and adults with its fun games and funny behavior.