Dolphins Of Florida
The different species of dolphins that can be found in the waters of Florida have long been a popular attraction for residents and visitors of the area alike.
Learning a little more about these animals, and the issues that may affect them, can provide you with a deeper appreciation for the natural world as well as a greater understanding of the issues and problems that may be putting marine life at greater risk.
Ensuring that these animals and the ecology of the region are able to enjoy a brighter and more secure future is not an issue that should be left to chance.
Dolphin species found in Florida
The warm waters and abundant food of this region has made it an ideal area for a number of different dolphin species.
The common dolphin, recognized by its shorter beak and counter-shaded coloring is a common enough sight off the coast of Florida, but it is by no means the only type of dolphin that can be found in the area.
More plentiful in number than other species, the bottlenose dolphin has a blue-gray coloring and lighter shading along its flanks and belly.Bottlenose dolphin
Description: Bottlenose dolphins, the genus Tursiops, are the most common members of the family Delphinidae, the family of oceanic dolphin. Molecular studies show the genus contains three species: the common bottlenose dolphin, the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, and the Burrunan dolphin.
Scientific name: Tursiops
Mass: Common bottlenose dolphin: 330 – 1,400 lbs, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin: 630 lbs Encyclopedia of Life
Length: Common bottlenose dolphin: 6.6 – 13 ft., Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin: 8.5 ft., Burrunan dolphin: 7.4 – 9.1 ft.
Did you know: Bottlenose dolphins are found in tropical oceans and other warm waters around the globe.
Finally, the Atlantic spotted dolphin can be found in tropical and sub-tropical waters ranging from the coast of Florida to the Indian Ocean; the darker coloring and stouter beak serve to identify this species.
Diet and Prey
The diet of dolphins can encompass a wide range of prey ranging from common fish like mackerel and herring to more exotic species like eels and even squid.
Dolphins are very effective hunters, using their larger size, superior intelligence and social hunting techniques in a variety of different ways.
Dolphins are able to enjoy a great variety of fish and other marine life when it comes to finding a meal, and whole pods of dolphins can often be seen in the area when on the hunt.
Dolphins are social animals, and can be found in both small and large groups, known as pods.
The size and social organization of these groups can vary greatly, with smaller groups of only two or three adult males and larger pods of female and juvenile dolphins numbering fifteen or more being fairly common.
The social relationships, cooperative hunting techniques and complex dynamics that dolphins enjoy shape many aspects of their daily lives.
The highly intelligent nature of these animals has made possible a complex and highly evolved social structure, one that many have found to be surprisingly complex and nuanced.
Dolphins have a breeding season, with competition for available females creating contention within the males of the species.
Mating occurs belly to belly, with a gestation period for newborns averaging about 11 – 13 months.
While twins may be possible, they are rare when compared to the far more numerous single births.
Newborns suckle for a period ranging from 17 to 20-months, and are usually looked after by their mother for a number of years following their weaning.
Females are able to reproduce on average once every two to six-years.
The species of dolphins that are most commonly found in this area enjoy the warmer waters and more abundant food supply that can be found in a tropical and sub-tropical climate.
Shallower waters, mild winters and a variety of prey are required for meeting the needs of these animals.
Ensuring that this region is able to provide a safe habitat for both dolphins and the marine life they prey upon is a very important concern.
Threats to Dolphins and Other Marine Life
The threats that are placing dolphins and their habitats at risk range from commercial fishing and individual propeller strikes to oil spills that effect the whole ecology of the region.
Doing all we can to ensure these animals are able to be protected from any and all environmental risks is not a concern that should be taken lightly.
Protecting and conserving marine wildlife will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy a more diverse and secure natural world.
Bottlenose dolphins are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, including harbors, bays, gulfs, and estuaries, as well as nearshore coastal waters, deeper waters over the continental shelf, and even far offshore in the open ocean. In the United States, bottlenose dolphins are found along the West Coast off California, Oregon, and Washington, and in the Hawaiian islands.
They are also found in coastal and offshore waters along the East Coast from New York to Florida, throughout the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Caribbean. Worldwide, bottlenose dolphins can be found in the Mediterranean and Black seas, as well as the southwestern Indian Ocean. In the Pacific Ocean, they range from northern Japan and central California to Australia and Chile. In the Atlantic Ocean, they range from at least as far north as Georges Bank (off Massachusetts) and the British Isles to Tierra del Fuego (in Argentina) and northern Namibia.