Learn About: Bottlenose Dolphins

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Sounds, Smiles, and Schnozzolas

If you think your Uncle Tom has the biggest schnozzola around, then you haven’t met a bottlenose dolphin. Bottlenose dolphins look like fish but they’re mammals. How do I know? It’s simple: fish use gills to breathe underwater while dolphins need to come up to the surface to breathe, just like you.

Bottlenose dolphins are not picky eaters. You know how your mom calls you when dinner’s ready? Dolphins do something similar. They find their food by using sound. They make clicking sounds that travel through the water until they hit an object like a fish. Then the sound bounces back, letting the dolphin know the size and shape of the thing in front of them, and where it is! This is called echolocation (ek-oh-low-KAY-shun). Or, more commonly known as “Dinner’s ready! Get it while it’s fresh!”

Their dinner “sounds” should not be confused with their means of communication. Bottlenose dolphins don’t “talk” to each other in words the way we do, but they make noises like squeaks and whistles to communicate. Many people think that dolphins look like they are smiling because their mouths curve in a way that looks like a smile. So if you see a smiling dolphin, remember to smile back.

Marmo’s Tip: Dolphins become tangled in fishing nets and other equipment that fisherman use to catch fish. This can trap the dolphins underwater where they cannot breathe. You can help! Trash from land often ends up in the ocean and can hurt dolphins. So if you want them to keep smiling, please, don’t litter.