Dolphin behavior

From: Jennifer Philips (jphilips@hawaii.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 29 2002 - 17:25:05 EST


Hi,

Recently I saw several dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico
engaging in some
behaviors I'd not seen before. They were milling around in a
group, slapping
the water, and seemed also to be twisting as they swam. As
they did this,
they stayed in a relatively small area. Can you tell me the
purpose of
behaviors such as these?

Thanks much.
Stephanie

Stephanie,

That sounds just like dolphins at rest or 'play', but I
couldn't be sure without more information. Many species of
dolphins exhibit behaviors like the ones your described when
they are between feeding bouts, when they are either rest as
a tight group or simply passing time until the next trip out
to eat. The fact that your say they were "milling around"
suggests that they weren't feeding when you saw them. Their
twisting and slapping the water is commonly seen in
bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf as well as a number of the
approximately 10 species of dolphins found there. Being very
social animals, dolphins spend much of their time touching
one another, twisting, turning, spiraling, and resting
together. Perhaps that is what you saw. I hope I've been
able to answer your question!

Jen Philips



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