Dolphin pods in hurricanes

From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 13:20:34 EDT

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    Question: Dear Kim,
    My name is Stephanie Anderson and I am in the 6th grade. I live in North
    Carolina and hurricane Isabel hit our beaches today. My question is: Do
    dolphins know when hurricanes are coming? Do they try to get away from
    them? There was a news report last night that showed a pod of dolphins
    playing in the waves before the storm really hit. I was worried about them
    becoming stranded or even caught in the rotation of the storm. Dolphins
    are my favorite animal. I went to dolphin camp last summer at The Dolphin
    Research Center in Grassy Key, Florida. I hope you will answer my question.

    Reply:
    Dear Stephanie,
    Dolphins are very aware of their environment and what natural threats may
    affect them. They live in a world of sound and sound travels farther under
    the water than in air so they can hear water motion from events like
    hurricanes well in advance. Dolphins may swim away from the bad weather but
    they are designed to live in the water and they can hold their breath for
    long periods of time making it less dangerous for them to be in a hurricane.
    As you saw they love playing in the waves. The effects of the hurricane
    underwater are much less severe than at the surface. Even so heavy winds
    can make their lives more difficult because a heavy sea state makes the
    water very noisy and this can affect their ability to communicate or
    echolocate, young dolphins (calves) canšt hold their breath as long as their
    parents so frequent trips to the surface can be hazardous, or in areas where
    dolphins feed the weather may effect the production and distribution of
    their food sources.

    Below are some links to similar questions asked on WhaleNet:
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask98/0459.html
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask99/0452.html

    Thank you for your question!

    Kim

    Kim Marshall
    Executive Director
    Ocean Alliance (Whale Conservation Inst. & the Voyage of the Odyssey)
    191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
    781.259.0423 ext. 14 fax 259.0288
    www.oceanalliance.org www.pbs.org/odyssey
    Please support our efforts to conserve whales and their ocean environment
    through research and education :)



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