I love sea life. I am writing this article to let you know about the bottlenose dolphin life cycle & podlife of orcas. You will get fascinated by reading ocean habitat facts. You would like to know in depth about Orcas versus Dolphins & their aquatic life.
My appeal to you is Be an Ocean friend to Protect Marine Habitats and Restore Life to the Oceans.
While studying about Dolphins & Orcas for writing this article, I found a very heart touching facts that human activity is impacting every part of our waters and putting the health of the oceans in danger. For oceans to keep sustaining us, we must find a way to sustain them.
Swimming with an Ocean playmate
This highly intelligent aquatic mammal, reputed to have saved the life of many shipwrecked sailors, has always been depicted as one of the man’s best ocean friend, The largest of the beaked dolphins, it is named for its short stubby beak which resembles the top or neck of a bottle, Bottlenose Dolphins are believed to be highly intelligent and live in social groups, called schools or pods. They communicate with each other using distinctive whistles clicks and body language.
The chief breeding season is between March & April. Dolphins will pair up briefly during this time when the male shows a preference for the company of a particular female. Courtship can be violent with much forceful bumping of heads.
Calves are born in midsummer in European waters and between February and May in Florida. So strong is an attachment between mother and calf that females have been seen supporting dead calves as the surface of the water, as though trying to help them to breathe,
Mother and calf often remain closed until the youngster is four to five years old.
Danger under the sea
Although still generally plentiful bottlenose dolphins have been virtually wiped out in some places. They are hunted for meat and other products in parts of the world. In the Pacific, they are often drowned in tuna nets although new dolphin friendly nets now being used more widely. Recently there has been concern about man-made marine noise such as shipping sonar, which upset whale’s and dolphin’s ability to feed, navigate and communicate. Evidence suggests that a military submarine detection system in which low-frequency active sonar floods the ocean with noise is threatening the survival of whales and dolphins by destroying their hearing or causing their ears or lungs to hemorrhage.
Acrobat of the sea
Bottlenose Dolphins travel in family groups of 1 to 10 in coastal regions and up to 25 Offshore although schools of up to 500 have been recorded. Within these schools, they tend to spend time with like individuals. Female and young calves frequently bad together, as do males. Often seen riding the bow wave of a boat and breaching ( doing belly-flops ), the bottlenose can leap several meters out of the water. It sleeps about eight hours a day, swims as the speed of 20 km an hour and dives for up to 20 minutes as a depth of 300m. Male fight viciously over females during the breeding season.
Bottlenose dolphins leap out of the water and somersault to breathe and also to communicate with each other
In the wild, Bottlenose Dolphin feeds on around 8 to 15 kg of squid, shrimp, eels and other fish per day. They often hunt as a team, herding small fish ahead of them and picking off the stranglers, in some waters. They follow shrimp boats to feast on leftovers. Hunting technique can vary a lot depending on location. In South Carolina, USA, for instance, dolphins chase fish on to the shore and then roll up on the beach to catch them. However, in the Gulf of Mexico, Bottlenose have been seen stunning fish by tossing them in the air with their tail flukes and then picking them up from the surface. Some researchers believe that they can stun their prey by producing loud noises.
Bottlenose dolphins are found mainly in the temperate and tropical water of the Atlantic and adjoining sea and favor warm, shallow inshore waters. They are also common off Hawaii and Florida.
A Good grip: Bottlenose dolphins grip fish with 18 to 27 pairs of small conical teeth in both jaws.
Designed to glide:: Bottlenose Dolphin has streamlined torpedo-shaped bodies to enable them to glide swiftly through the ocean. They range in color from cream to charcoal or almost black. Usually, the back is darker and the belly lighter
Communication is via a wide range of sounds emitted from a nasal sac on the forehead.
Distinctive skin marking help camouflage dolphins from a potential predator.
Tail has two horizontal pedals called flukes that power it through the water.
- Length 1.9 to 4 m,
- Weight 500 kg,
- Sexual maturity- Male: 9 to 13-year Female 5 to 12 year, Breeding season: March and April,
- Gestation period: 12 months,
- Number of young: 1,
- Breeding interval: 2 to 3 years
- Diet: A wide variety of fish and seafood,
- Life span: 12 to 40 year but can be up to 50
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Gang culture of the ocean killer
Weighing up to 10 Tonnes and equipped with sharp, flesh-tearing teeth, and adult Orca is a formidable predator. This distinctively marked black and white cetacean bears down on prey as a speed of up to 55 km per hour and even tackle animals much bigger than itself, including the largest one on the Earth- The Blue Whale. Often called the killer whale, the Orca is not a whale as all, but the largest member of the dolphin family.
Orcas live in extended family groups called pods. Pod behavior is marked by co-operation, co-ordination, communication, trust, and acceptance. Orcas socialize by rubbing their bodies together, slapping their tail and pectoral fins against the surface and lifting their heads out of the water, a process called ‘ spy-hopping ‘. When swimming together orcas breathe in unison. While it is not known why they do this, it demonstrates the closeness of the bond between them. Groups of pods which share the same tradition of sound by which they communicate and recognize each other are known as ‘Clans’
Looking after Junior:
To avoid inbreeding, orcas usually mate with outsiders. Two or more pods come together to form a temporary ‘superpod’ for breathing purposes. After a long gestation period of nearly one and a half year, a single calf is born. Calves are about 2.4m long and weigh a hefty 180 kg as birth. The calf suckles for up to 18 months and stays close to its mother’s side. As she swims, her slipstream help to carry the calf along, so both of them can keep pace with the pod. Young maturing orca female will sometimes ‘babysit’. Mother and Calf will retain a lifelong bond. When the young reproduce, their young stay and gradually build up multi-generational groupings around the original mother.
Free Willy to the rescue:
Captive performing orcas used to be a popular attraction but this form of entertainment has fallen out of favor due to the campaign for the release of keiko, orca stars of the film Free Willy.
Orcas were hunted for food by native Americans, Norwegian, Icelander and Faroese, but they escaped the large-scale commercial slaughter that befell the true whales. Some fishing communities regard them as competitors and have hunted them for this reason. Orcas are not threatened as present and conservation and education program are in place.
Orcas use a specific hunting technique to suit each situation. Those living off Southern South America will deliberately launch themselves as the beach to catch sea lions, while in polar regions, orcas surface under ice floes in order to tip Penguins into the water. They often hunt cooperatively- a pod herding fish together then attacking from different angles. Such techniques are made more effective by using Eco location-an orca sends out high-frequency clicks that bounce off prey and other objects. They then interpret the returning echos. There seem to be two types of orca. ‘Resident’ orcas stay within a home range and eat mainly fish, ‘ transient ‘ orcas form nomadic populations and have a more varied diet, feeding on other whales, fish and Marine Mammals.
Found in all the oceans of the world, orcas favor coastal temperate or cool waters. The largest population are on the continental shelf and around Antarctica, where some hundred thousand individuals live.
Powerful package: The orca has a powerful tail to push it through the water, and large flippers and a tall dorsal fin to provide stability. The body is robust and heavy.
Dorsal fin: Prominent and triangular in males up to 1.8 meters. Smaller and more curved in female and young.
Conical teeth: Curved back and Inward for seizing and tearing prey into a chunk
Saddle patch: markings are unique to each individual
Broad tail flukes are powered by strong back and tail muscle
Black and white coloration: Provide good camouflage making it hard for other animals to see it in the flickering underwater light
Skin is rubbery to touch but very sensitive
Large oval pectoral flippers: Unlike those of the whales.
- Length: Male up to 9.8 m Female up to 8.5 m
- Weight: Up to 10 ton
- Migration: Some are non-migrant, others are nomadic Sexual maturity: 14 to 15 years, breeding season varies with location
- Gestation period 15 to 17 month
- Number of young 1
- Diet: Fish, squid, octopus, and Marine mammal.
- Lifespan: Males- 40 to 50 years Females- Up to 90 years
An incredible 80% of all the life on Earth lives in the water. As this vital, vast water world pulses around the planet, driving the natural forces which sustain life on Earth. Ocean acidification, coral bleaching, pollution, habitat loss, destructive fishing practices, over fishing and climate change are the challenges we are facing today.
The aquatic life plays an important role in many of the Earth’s systems including climate and weather.
The seas are key to transportation, recreation, and resources we get may hold the cures to many diseases.
The fact of Life:
The ocean supports the life of lot species on Earth and helps sustain that life providing the animal protein.It provides protein in the human diet. One of every six jobs in the United States is marine-related and over one-third of the U.S. Gross National Product originates in coastal areas.
So save Ocean Life & Save Earth!
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