Thought to be some of the smartest animals on Earth, bottlenose dolphins send messages to one another in many different ways.
Bottlenose dolphins squeak, squawk and use body language—leaping as high as 20 feet in the air, snapping their jaws, slapping their tails on the surface of the water, blowing bubbles and even butting heads. Each dolphin has a special whistle that it creates soon after it is born. This whistle is used for identification, just like a human’s name. Dolphins also produce high frequency clicks, which act as a sonar system called echolocation (ek-oh-low-KAY-shun). When the clicking sounds hit an object in the water, like a fish or rock, they bounce off and come back to the dolphin as echoes. Echolocation tells the dolphins the shape, size, speed, distance, and location of the object.
Bottlenose dolphins have a sharp sense of hearing. Scientists believe that the sounds travel through the dolphin's lower jaw to its inner ear and then are transmitted to the brain for analysis.
Dolphins grow to be anywhere from 6 to 12 feet long. They shed their outermost layer of skin every two hours.
Very social and playful mammals, bottlenose dolphins form friendships that last decades hunting, mating and protecting each other. They like to surf in the waves and wakes of boats and swim through self-made bubble rings. They can swim up to 22 miles an hour.
These sea mammals feed on fish, squid, and shrimp. A group of dolphins will cooperate to make a mud ring to trap fish. Then, some of the dolphins in the group will wait outside the ring for the fish that try to escape, gulping them up as a snack.