23.03.2019 – Nose-dives & Belly-flops
Our sightings today were a concuction of the two pioneer species in human-dolphin interaction; the Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and the Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Apart from being notorious for their extremely interactive behaviour, which dates back to documented encounters in the Ancient Greece and Rome, these are two extremely surface-active dolphins. Sightings involving both species often include a spectacular combination of leaps and breaches, with the animals showing off their fine, hydrodynamic physique.
Of course the animals aren’t putting on a show especially for us (although many like to see it that way). Dolphins jump for several reasons and these also determine the nature of this charismatic surface behavior. During a leap the dolphin launches itself out of the water with its belly facing the ocean and its beak pointing forward. Leaps are often observed when dolphins are travelling in a group, when they travel alongside our boats or when they are hunting. Generally air creates much less friction than water, so dolphins travel much faster as a unit when they occasionally leap out of the water. Secondly, it’s an alternative way to surface and breathe while moving forward swiftly. On top of that, it allows the animal to inspect its surroundings above the surface and also confuse its prey during a feeding situation.
Breaches are all other jumps or, to quote one of our younger guests; when dolphins jump „funny“. These jumps look more like belly flops and are ideal for capturing attention, not just ours but also that of their fellow peers. Breaches create a very loud sound at the surface which quickly grasps the attention of the rest of the herd, allowing the breaching individual to communicate whatever must be communicated quickly.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
10:00 Bottlenose dolphins
15:00 Short-beaked common dolphins
15:00 Bottlenose dolphins, Short-beaked common dolphins