The Spinner Dolphin
Living in Florida you get to experience a variety of marine life. Growing up surrounded by bodies of water I’ve always taken a liking and enjoyed learning about spinner dolphins. The spinner dolphin is a breed of dolphins. Due to their aerial moves they are sometimes referred to as the acrobats of the sea. According to Whale Facts, spinner dolphins live in warm tropical waters of the sea, primarily coastal islands or banks,(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). They travel together in groups with other spinner dolphins. The groups they form are called pods or schools,(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). Dolphins switch their groups frequently, so there is no leader. Spinner dolphins can weigh up to 175 pounds and measure up to 8 feet (“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). The average lifespan of a spinner dolphin is 20-30 years(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). The spinner dolphin is different from other dolphins because it is light grey on the stomach and dark grey on the back(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). They also have a long narrow beak (mouth) (“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). Spinners rest in the shallow waters during the day, then hunt for food when it gets dark(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). The spinner dolphins are a subspecies of mammals that have a unique way of communicating, hunting, and sleeping(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale).
An uncommon thing about spinner dolphins is the way they hunt. According to Whale Facts, hunting consists of the pod traveling to deep waters to a depth of 1000 feet being able to hold their breath up to 10 minutes. They typically hunt squid, shrimp, and small fish,(“Spinner Dolphins.” Whale). As stated by National Wildlife Foundation, Spinner dolphins are very friendly and like to socialize by hunting with other sea creatures. These creatures can include different types of dolphins, humpback whales, and tuna fish (“Spinner Dolphin.” National). According to an article in Whale Facts,
Hunting may occur in groups where one group of dolphins will swim around their prey herding them into a small dense ball while one or other dolphins swim through the densely compacted group of fish and take turns consuming the scared and paralyzed fish.
Once the schools have completed their meal, the spinner dolphins travel back to the shallow waters to rest.
Another unique thing about the spinner dolphins is their sleeping cycle, they actually are never fully asleep: “They literally sleep with one eye open” (“Spinner Dolphins.” Wild). According to Linki’s video Pure Nature Specials Spinner Dolphins, when the dolphin is at rest, half of its brain is functioning while the other half is resting (Linki). This process alternates throughout the night. This allows the dolphin to be partially conscious(Linki). It’ll be able to swim and maneuver in the shallows at a slow speed while staying within the pod(Linki). This will also give the dolphin the ability to surface and breathe through its blowhole(Linki). During this stage, dolphins are less observant and more defenseless to predators(Linki).
Another unique feature about the spinner dolphins is their way of communicating. As stated Linki’s video “Pure Nature Specials Spinner Dolphins”, spinner dolphins swim by flexing the back of the tail up and down. Spinner dolphins can launch themselves into the air up to 10 feet. They get their name from their unique ability to spin. The dolphin spins quickest when outside to water. While in the air, they can complete up to eight spins in one jump. Spinning is not the only thing these dolphins can do. They also can do somersaults, tail flaps, head flaps and many more. All of these acrobatic movements can mean something different. They use these abilities to communicate something to their pod. Depending on the way they land, whether it is back first or belly first or the number of bubbles they form when they splash can mean various things; it can mean they want to start a new group, they want to play, they want to move in a different direction, or to indicate a threat. Another way spinner dolphins communicate is with Sonar Echolocation. According to an article in Wild Dolphin Foundation,
Echolocation enables dolphins to track objects in dim or dark water in effect to “see” much further then their eyes will allow. . . .They pinpoint their prey through echolocation, in which some of the click train sent out bounces off an object and returns to them in hologram form. Dolphins then interpret this returning echo to determine the object's distance, shape and other characteristics. (“Spinner Dolphin.”Wild)
Spinner dolphins are one of the most fasinating creatures of the sea. They demonstrate teamwork while hunting for their meals. The spinner dolphins have an unusual sleeping cycle that allows them to sleep with one eye open. They are amazing communicators with their acrobatic moves. All of these unique characteristics made up the extrodinary spinner dolphin.
Linki, Geyse. “Pure Nature Specials Spinner Dolphins”. YouTube, 23 Nov. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-UFcyRD8gs&t=1951s. Accessed 23 November 2018.
“Spinner Dolphin.” National Wildlife Federation, https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Spinner-Dolphin. Accessed on November 23 2018.
“Spinner Dolphin.” Whale Facts, 2018 WhaleFacts.org, https://www.whalefacts.org/spinner-dolphin-facts/. Accessed on 23 November 2018.
“Spinner Dolphins.” Wild Dolphin Foundation, 2005 The Wild Dolphin Foundation, http://wilddolphin.org/spinner.html. Accessed 23 November 2018.