Dolphins Behaving Badly – Caught on Tape

Do dolphins bite or attack humans? They can and do bite but I think attack might be too strong a word for their behavior toward people. Here are some videos of dolphins behaving in a way that reminds us they are, indeed, wild animals. Don’t let that smile fool you!

In this first video, it really does look like the dolphin is trying to attack the people on the beach. The screaming is hysterical. I cannot imagine what the little torpedo was trying to do. Herding fish or strand feeding, perhaps?

This video shows a dolphin with romance on his mind. He really likes this woman. Really, really likes this woman. Her nervous laughter makes it even funnier!


In the next video, a captive dolphin rams a child while in a dolphin encounter program. Definitely not funny. They have been known to kill sharks and porpoises by ramming them. Was he\she just playing roughly, or was this outright aggression? Just playing or not, those captive dolphin programs may not be as safe as most people would like to believe. I imagine the dolphins are under a lot of stress in those conditions.


Finally, this dolphin clearly came over to the boat for a handout. I am guessing he has been fed from boats in the past, but who knows for sure. Yes, dolphins do bite! In my opinion, he thought the tapping hand was food. Just another example of why we should not feed wild dolphins!

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Dolphins don’t always behave badly, although they are known to have a wicked sense of humor! There are countless stories of dolphins helping humans, other marine mammals, and their own kind. Maybe that should be the topic of another post!

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10 Remarkable Bottlenose Dolphins Facts You Didn’t Know

Think you know everything about bottlenose dolphins? Here are some fun and interesting facts that might surprise you.

1. Bottlenose dolphins would do well in kindergarten.They are good at waiting, being patient, and taking turns. Oftentimes they will work together to hunt for fish. The group members surround and corral the fish while letting one dolphin eat in the middle. They then each take turns having a meal. What do bottlenose dolphins eat? 15-30 pounds per day of small fishes, squid, and crustaceans.

The underwater viewing area with the Bottlenos...

2. Dolphins don’t chew. They eat fish whole and head first. They eat them head first to avoid being harmed by the fish scales and spine.

3. Bottlenose dolphins have great eyesight both in and out of the water. Their cousins, the Amazon River dolphins, have terrible eyesight and must rely on echolocation to get around.

4. Dolphins sometimes have traffic accidents. They occasionally crash into each other in mid-air. This is believed to be what recently happened to Nea, a captive dolphin that died at the Brookfield Zoo.

A pod of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins in t...

Rush hour!

5. Giving birth is a breeze. Dolphin labor only lasts about 20 minutes to 2 hours. How nice for them.

6. Dolphins play with their food. They “fish whack” their prey by flicking them high in the air with their tail flukes to stun or kill the fish. The dolphins then swim over and feast on the easy meal.

7. The teenagers are irresponsible. When wild dolphins are between 3-6 years old, they leave their mothers and join up with other “adolescent” dolphins. Lacking in life skills, this is a time when many dolphins die due to inexperience.

8. Just say no! Having a calf too young causes problems. Young teenage dolphin mothers do not always know how to properly take care of their babies. Sound familiar?

An adult female bottlenose dolphin with her yo...

Mother and calves

9. Bottlenose dolphins are like trees. You can tell approximately how old a dolphin is by examining the layers of its teeth. This is similar to how you can determine the age of a tree.

Ready for Lunch

Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

10. They can be homebodies. Some wild bottlenose dolphins remain in the same home range for generations, without ever migrating. So, where do bottlenose dolphins live? They can be found in nearly all temperate and tropical waters throughout the world. Here is a map of their habitat range from NOAA.

Where do bottlenose dolphins live?

Bottlenose dolphins habitat

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Dolphins And Their Babies Still Being Affected By The Gulf Oil Spill

If you are a wild dolphin lover and have been wondering how the Gulf Coast dolphins are doing, you will saddened by the latest news. It appears dolphins and other coastal animals are not doing well a year and a half after the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

A beach after an oil spill.

Beach after oil spill

Hundreds of bottlenose dolphins have washed ashore on northern gulf beaches since the event unfolded, and they continue to do so at alarming rates. Dolphins in this region have been stranding at six times the average rate. Scientists are scrambling to determine why this is happening.

Estimates of stranded and dead dolphins range from 350 – 500 since the event. According to the National Wildlife Foundation only 1 in 50 dolphins that die actually turn up on area beaches. What this means is that most dead dolphins are never recovered. So, in reality, the death toll in this region is most likely much higher.

Are the dolphin deaths related to the oil spill or is something else going on?

We do know that NOAA has declared the stranding experience an “Unusual Mortality Event”. This means the federal government has determined that something strange is going on. Researchers are unclear if the oil spill is to blame, or if other factors are causing the deaths. We do know the bottlenose dolphins are stranding across a huge coastal area in the northern Gulf, and they continue to do so today. This map from NOAA shows recent dolphin stranding data in the region of concern.

Dolphins Stranding in the Gulf Coast

NOAA - Strandings in the Northern Gulf

An increase in stillbirths and deaths of infant dolphins during the previous calving season is suspicious. There is some speculation that the adult dolphins ingested the pollutants and the babies are paying the price.  The NOAA Unusual Mortality Event page has excellent comparison data on average cetacean strandings\deaths in the region compared with deaths since the oil spill. I highly recommend checking out their site.

Researchers are working to determine the cause of the deaths. They are also collecting samples and data from live wild dolphins in the local waters. Due to the ongoing investigation of the oil spill, the results of these studies are not yet known.

If you would like to help the dolphins and other animals affected by the oil spill, the National Wildlife Foundation would be a good place to start.

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How to See the Pink Dolphins in Hong Kong

Pink dolphins (unlike unicorns) really do exist, and you can see them fairly easily in Hong Kong.

When you think of visiting this major city in China, you probably don’t immediately think of dolphin watching. In actuality, there are about 300 pink dolphins (known as the Chinese white dolphin or Indo Pacific humpback dolphin) that make their home in the Hong Kong waterways. You can take a dolphin watch tour to see these unique and very brightly colored creatures.

Pink river dolphine
Chinese White Dolphin. Photo provided by HKDCS.

The Indo Pacific humpback dolphin lives in brackish water (where fresh and salt water mix) and can be found in many locations near the city. One of the most popular areas is Lantau Island. Dolphin tour operators will take you to Lantau Island by bus from Hong Kong hotels. From there you board a boat and you are off to see one of  the most unusual dolphins in the world.

Why are pink dolphins pink?

No one is quite sure why they are pink. Some believe it is because they live in this brackish water where their main predator, the shark, cannot live. No predators, no need for the grey colored camouflage. Interesting theory. Another thought is that pink dolphins are actually white, but are “blushing” which means the blood is closer to their skin. They do this when they overheat from exerting themselves. This flushing (or blushing) makes them look pink. Kind of like a dolphin hot flash! Wonder if it only occurs in females 🙂

How to get out to see the pink dolphins

The most popular boat tour to see the dolphins is Hong Kong Dolphin Watch Ltd. They have been bringing people to see these bubble gum colored dolphins since 1995. They have guidelines in place to keep the dolphins safe from harm, and are quite familiar with where to find them.

What you need to know about the dolphins

The Chinese white dolphin in Hong Kong faces many threats including pollution, boat traffic, and habitat loss. In recent years, China has designated protected marine mammal areas for this species in particular. In these protected waters, boaters can’t go over a certain speed and fishing activity is regulated.

Another significant concern is a somewhat unregulated dolphin watching industry. Numerous boats will take tourists to see the pink dolphins, but not all of them know how to keep the dolphins safe. Please ask questions of the dolphin tour operators before booking. Not all are respectful of the dolphins.

Great advice on how to select a dolphin tours company.

If you are planning to be in Hong Kong, take the time to visit with these fascinating mammals.

To learn more about conservation efforts in place for these dolphins visit: Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society

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Dolphin Tours – 10 Things to Know Before you Go

Thinking about booking a dolphin tour? Here’s some advice on how to choose the best one and have a great dolphin watching experience.

1. Choose a smaller dolphin boat with fewer people.

Dolphin watching in the Bay.

Image via Wikipedia

2. Opt for boats that seat you close to the water.

A pontoon boat approaches on Lake Gaston, VA-N...

Pontoon boat (Wikipedia)

3. Think outside the boat box – consider kayaks, paddle boards, and small sailboats as alternatives to larger powerboats

Dolphin Kayak Tours

Image by norbd via Flickr

4. Have a naturalist on board

5. No feeding of dolphins – yes, dolphins do bite! Read more about the dangers here.

Dolphin

Image by Scott the Hobo via Flickr

6. Choose experienced boat tour operators

7. Ask how tour operators ensure the dolphin’s safety

8. Opt for an early morning or sunset cruise when the ocean is calm

9. Look at reviews and testimonials before booking

10. Designate a photographer!

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Can You Swim with Humpback Whales? Yes, You Can!

Ever thought about swimming with whales? Well, amazingly enough you can do this in certain parts of the world. Whether this is a good idea or not is another question.

Look at how small this woman is compared to the whale and calf.

I am a pretty adventurous person, but I have to admit this encounter makes me a little nervous. The problem is these bad boys are HUGE! Humpback whales can grow to 50 feet long. I feel like I need to say that again. Humpback whales are 50 feet long!!

Have you ever seen whales breach? Or tail slap? Seems to me these “gentle giants” could easily flip a person right back into the boat! On the other hand they have no teeth, so there is little chance you will be eaten. Good news there.

Humpback Whale Breaching

Whale Breaching (Wikipedia)

I remember how terrifying it was when a humpback whale dove under my raft in Maui. All I could think about was what will we do if he breaks the surface under the raft! Fortunately that guy came up on the other side of us, but I got a real appreciation for how beautiful and truly massive they are.

Still want to try swimming with humpback whales? The two most popular places are Tonga and the Dominican Republic. In Tonga, swim with whales boat tours travel around the islands of Vava’u. The whales migrate to Tonga from Antarctica and are there from July to November. This is their breeding ground, so lots of calves will be around.

In the Caribbean, the best swim location is the Silver Bank (70 miles from the Dominican Republic and about the same distance from Turks and Caicos). The Silver Bank is part of a larger sanctuary for mammals, and is also a breeding ground.  The tour operators promote what is called “soft in-water encounters”. What this means is that persons wanting to spend time with the whales must float and not swim, stick together in a group, use snorkels not scuba gear, and let the whales approach them.

What do you think? Are you brave enough to try swimming with whales?

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Three Dolphin Videos You Really Should See

If you care about dolphins and dolphin conservation, there are three important videos that I highly recommend you watch. They are:

The Cove

This is the controversial documentary about the annual dolphin hunt that takes place in a secluded cove in Taiji, Japan. This is a highly disturbing video. Dolphins from this hunt are used for food and are also sold into captive dolphin programs. You can watch The Cove trailer online.

Watch The Cove movie trailer

a show of Bottlenose Dolphins in Echizen Matsu...

Bottlenose dolphin show (Wikipedia)

A Fall From Freedom

Another graphic film whose main goal is to expose the captive dolphin industry. Disturbing, but important to watch. It would be interesting to hear what the captive dolphin industry has to say in response.

A Fall From Freedom in its entirety

Captive dolphins

Captive dolphins (Wikipedia)

IMAX Dolphins Movie

On a lighter note, watch (or re-watch) the IMAX Dolphins movie. If you have not seen this dolphin movie, run out and get a copy. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the world these creatures live in. The music is by Sting, so what could be better than that! This film has been out for quite a while but you can still get it at Amazon, Netflix, and dozens of other places.

Watch the IMAX Dolphins trailer here.

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