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dolphin : any of various small marine toothed whales (family Delphinidae) with the snout more or less elongated into a beak and the neck vertebrae partially fused

Note: While not closely related, dolphins and porpoises share a physical resemblance that often leads to misidentification. Dolphins typically have cone-shaped teeth, curved dorsal fins, and elongated beaks with large mouths, while porpoises have flat, spade-shaped teeth, triangular dorsal fins, and shortened beaks with smaller mouths.Webster

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Dolphins are a widely distributed and diverse group of aquatic mammals. They are an informal grouping within the order Cetacea, excluding whales and porpoises, so to zoologists the grouping is paraphyletic. The dolphins comprise the extant families 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). There are 40 extant species of dolphins. Dolphins, alongside other cetaceans, belong to the clade Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates. Their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago.

Dolphins range in size from the 1.7 m (5.6 ft) long and 50 kg (110 lb) Maui’s dolphin to the 9.5 m (31 ft) and 10 t (11 short tons) killer whale. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the males are larger than females. They have streamlined bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not quite as flexible as seals, some dolphins can travel at 55.5 km/h (34.5 mph). Dolphins use their conical shaped teeth to capture fast moving prey. They have well-developed hearing which is adapted for both air and water and is so well developed that some can survive even if they are blind. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water.

Although dolphins are widespread, most species prefer the warmer waters of the tropic zones, but some, like the right whale dolphin, prefer colder climates. Dolphins feed largely on fish and squid, but a few, like the killer whale, feed on large mammals, like seals. Male dolphins typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years. Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them. Mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for a relatively long period of time. Dolphins produce a variety of vocalizations, usually in the form of clicks and whistles. — Wikipedia

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Researchers Find That Dolphins Call Each Other By ‘Name’ (Eyder Peralta, NPR)
Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says (James Owen, National Geographic News)

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Dolphins and Whales News -- ScienceDaily Whales and dolphins. Whale songs, beaching, endangered status -- current research news on all cetaceans.

  • Study finds high levels of toxic pollutants in...
    on August 6, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Researchers examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales from 2012 to 2018. They looked at 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances. The study is the first to report on concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, DEP, NPE and triclosan. It also is the first to report concentrations of toxicants in a white-beaked dolphin and in Gervais' beaked whales.

  • Dolphin calf entangled in fishing line only lived...
    on August 4, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Researchers examined the outcome of an entangled bottlenose dolphin calf with monofilament fishing line wrapped tightly around its upper jaw. It was successfully disentangled and immediately released it back into its natural habitat. Surviving only two years, results showed long-term severe damage due to this entanglement including emaciation. There are about 1,000 bottlenose dolphins that live in the Indian River Lagoon, which also is a very popular location for recreational fishing.

  • Whale airway mucus reveals likely poor health...
    on July 30, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Researchers have linked the burden of humpback whales' annual migration to depleted microbial diversity in their airways - an indicator of overall health.

  • Underwater robots reveal daily habits of...
    on July 30, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Research has revealed the daily habits of the endangered Mediterranean sperm whale. The recordings confirmed the whales' widespread presence in the north-western Mediterranean Sea and identified a possible hotspot for sperm whale habitat in the Gulf of Lion, as well as different foraging strategies between different areas.

  • Baleen whales have changed their distribution in...
    on July 17, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Researchers using passive acoustic recordings of whale calls to track their movements have found that four of the six baleen whale species found in the western North Atlantic Ocean -- humpback, sei, fin and blue whales -- have changed their distribution patterns in the past decade. The recordings were made over 10 years by devices moored to the seafloor at nearly 300 locations from the Caribbean Sea to western Greenland.


Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Harbor porpoises and seal bombs
    on August 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Using recordings from MBARI's deep-sea hydrophone, marine-mammal researchers have found that the sounds of seal bombs could have significant impacts on the behavior of harbor porpoises in and around Monterey Bay. Seal bombs are explosive charges (roughly equivalent to an M-80 or cherry bomb) that commercial fishers throw into the ocean to discourage sea lions from interfering with their operations.

  • Tracking humanity's latest toxins in stranded...
    on August 5, 2020 at 7:13 am

    As humanity develops new types of plastics and chemicals, researchers are constantly trying to keep up with understanding how these contaminants affect the environment and wildlife. A new study gives a first look at the presence and potential effects of these pollutants in stranded dolphins and whales along the coast of the southeastern United States.

  • Dolphin calf entangled in fishing line only lived...
    on August 4, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) live in the Indian River Lagoon year-round. The estuary system along the central east coast of Florida stretches about 250 kilometers and provides valuable shallow water habitat for this species. The lagoon also is popular for recreational fishing spots, which often coincide with bottlenose dolphin feeding habitats because they target the same species of fish. In fact, it very common to observe interactions between dolphins and […]

  • New method lets scientists peer deeper into ocean
    on July 30, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Researchers have advanced a new way to see into the ocean's depths, establishing an approach to detect algae and measure key properties using light. A paper published in Applied Optics reports using a laser-based tool, lidar, to collect these measurements far deeper than has been typically possible using satellites.

  • Whale snot reveals likely poor health during...
    on July 30, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Whale-watching season is delighting the viewing public along the east Australian coast but while it's a boon for the tourism industry, for the majestic humpback whale it's potentially a time of less optimal health.