Author: Lauren Young (age 12), September 2007
I love dolphins for so many reasons. They are cute, intelligent, friendly and sociable. They are graceful and just completely brilliant and wonderful. I have loved dolphins for as long as I can remember and I really want to swim with them at some time in the near future. I have done many projects on dolphins at school and have always had good marks for them.
Dolphins are loved worldwide by so many people from children to adults. In Thailand dolphins are seen around their warm tropical waters. Some of the dolphin species that can be found are called Irrawaddy, Indo-pacific and the Bottlenose dolphin.
Most dolphins eat squid and small fish like jacks. Males grow to about 2.5 to 2.7 metres. Females grow to around 2.5 metres and newborn babies are 1 to 1.3 metres in size. Dolphins live to about 45 to 50 years of age. However, they do have predators such as sharks. Dolphin babies drink milk until they are about 1 year old.
Like most animals dolphins have predators, the main culprits being big sharks and killer whales. Tiger Sharks, hammer head, great white sharks and bull sharks are the main attackers for the dolphins. Unfortunately us humans have also played a part in threats in past years. Dolphins are fairly strong in confidence and physically strong. Baby dolphins known as calves are the weakest so they are most valuable to their predators. Dolphins travel in groups called pods. In one pod there can be from around 50 to over 1000 dolphins. They travel like this to protect themselves from predators as there are more eyes to be watching for any predators coming for the group. Some dolphin species become aggressive and poke a shark with their nose which will sometimes scare off the sharks.
At the age of about 9 to 13 years a male will start to mate. It is much younger for females who start breeding at around 5 to 12 years old. Females often give birth seasonally because warm water is thermally efficient for calves and mothers. Other dolphins called dolphin Aunts (normally female) will help the mother during pregnancy birth and will help the newborn calf. The expectant mum will spend the due time days in shallow water so it is easy to help the calf to the surface for first breath. The dolphin Aunts will help until both the calf and the mother are fit and well again. The aunts will also help push the new mother to the surface to breathe if she is weak after her birth. They will also protect the mother and calf from danger along with the rest of the group. A dolphin's birth can take several hours. Typically, the animal is born tail first so the blowhole emerges last, ensuring the baby does not drown. The baby will stay with its mum for around 3 to 6 years.
One day I would really love to dive with dolphins. I hope you have picked up on some information in this article. The only places I have ever seen them is in Tenerife and Scotland. When I am older I want to be a marine biologist studying whales sharks, possibly seals and penguins, and of course dolphins. I really hope to fulfil this dream as soon as I possibly can.
Lauren Young is a delightful twelve year old girl, keen on animal life in general and especially marine creatures. Both her and her ten year old sister Sophie have dived with us in Phuket and Lauren is already a Junior Open Water diver. Unfortunately during her trip we did not see any dolphins although they can be seen sometimes during the journey to/from the local dive sites of Phuket and also around the Similans islands.
Lauren and family are hoping to come back soon (maybe in 2008) for more diving. Hopefully some dolphins will show up during that holiday!
Around 2015 a dolphinarium was opened in Phuket despite many local protests and legal challenges. If you are thinling of visiting the dolphins there then we ask you to consider the fact that these are animals in captivity i.e. imprisoned. Dolphins are highly intelligent mammals that have mental abilities beyond even those of humans such as the ability to process sonic waves into visual representations in their minds. In the wild, they often swim distances of more than 100 km a day. Does it really seem fair to keep them against their wishes in an area not much bigger than a standard swimming pool?
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