Scientific Name: Stenella longirostris
Spinner Dolphin Description
When it comes to dolphins you will find they range significantly in size. The Spinner Dolphin happens to be on the smaller side of them. These dolphins feature a light gray color and they also have white on their stomach areas. They don’t weight very much – usually around 200 pounds. They also aren’t very long – close to 7 feet is tall.
Pay close attention to the design of their bodies and you will quickly identify a few differences from other species. For example they have a curved dorsal fin. This helps them to move faster through the water and to be balanced. They also have longer fins than other dolphins.
Many humans are quite familiar with the look of the Spinner Dolphin. They have taken the time to watch them in their natural environment out there because they do live in many places. Other people are among the high number of annual tourists that will travel to see them as they migrate.
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Spinner Dolphin Anatomy
The overall look of their bodies is amazing, and it helps them to be able to move very quickly through the waters. They have very flexible body parts and that is why they are able to spin around, jump out of the water, swim backwards, and more. Their name does stem from the fact that they can do many high speed spins in the air – and often they look like a top.
Since these animals do need to plenty of air even while they sleep experts wanted to find out if they were able to get enough rest or not. What was discovered though is that only one side of their mind rests at a time. This allows the other side to remind them to go to the surface and to get enough air while they rest. Then they can switch to the other side of it resting.
Spinner Dolphin Behavior
It really isn’t known why the Spinner Dolphin does all of the acrobatics that they do. Many people assume all of those tricks are taught in captivity so they are startled when they come upon these dolphins in their natural environment doing them. They have been classified as the most acrobatic species of dolphin out there.
The pod sizes for the Spinner Dolphin are quite significant as well. You may see some with only a few members. They will continue to grow though as the females have young. Chances are these smaller pods formed from those that have recently matured and left their pod of origin. Generally you will find the pod sizes to be close to 200 members.
Even though the dolphins are very calm, they are also very protective. You will notice that the young are on the inside of the pod. That way it is harder for predators to reach them. They seem to get along very well with the other members of their pod as well. They know that they are individuals but they also know that they are a part of a group.
Their level of intelligence though is completely dumbfounded experts. For example they will take care of orphaned young, help sick members of their pod get healthy again, and even help boaters or divers that seem to be in a serious situation. They are known to show emotions and to be very social with each other.
Clicks and whistling sounds are the most common ways in which they communicate with each other. They do seem to communicate with other species of dolphins as well which is interesting too. Non verbal communication often occurs within the pods as well. The mothers are very good as touching the young as a way to help them to feel encouraged and to thrive.
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Spinner Dolphin Habitat/Distribution
Of all the different species of dolphins, these seem to have the most diverse locations where they live. They can be found in either fresh or salt waters. They are mainly in the various oceans out there though. They can be found along Japan, Hawaii, and Mexico. Many other sightings occur as well during migration and when they are looking for food. They prefer the warmer climate so when it is cold they will travel well known patterns for mating, for food, and to make sure they get to stay in an area that is warm enough for them.
They have a very active life during the night as that is when they hunt for food. During the day though they may seem to be quite lazy. This is when they can be seen close to the shore. They may be sleeping, performing various types of acrobatics, or even watching the people that have shown up to watch them.
Spinner Dolphin Diet/Feeding Habits
Spinner Dolphins are very good at hunting for their prey. Even though they do see better than other species, they lack good eyesight. They use the vibrations that they can pick up though to more than make up for it. This ability allows them to know where their prey is and how far it is from them. They can even identify the size which is important since they swallow food rather than chewing it up.
They are very good at diving for food, and can go as far down as 3,000 feet. What do Spinner Dolphins consume? They eat many different things with the majority of their diet being fish. They also eat snails, squid, shrimp, and jellyfish.
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Spinner Dolphin Reproduction
During migration is when reproduction will occur. The males will also become more active in regards to their spins and other fun movements. This is because the females find them to be very attractive as well. These movements along with clicks and whistles are enough to encourage one of them to mate with him. They will spend plenty of time communicating both verbally and non verbally before they actually mate.
Then they will go their separate ways and the females will carry the pup for about 10 months. By the time she is ready to give birth the pod has returned to their native home range. The other females will help to protect her while she gives birth. They will also help to get the young to the surface for air.
They females will give birth every four to five years due to the fact that they take such good care of their young. These offspring will remain feeding from them for the first couple of years of life. They form bonds that are long lasting as the females really seem to enjoy their roles in raising young.
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Spinner Dolphin Predators
As with all dolphins, sharks and Killer Whales are the main predators for them to have to worry about. They will usually only attack them though when their other food sources are scarce. It can be hard to get a dolphin alone away from the rest of the pod in order to feed on it. However, they will do what they must in order to ensure their own survival.
Since there are so many locations where the Spinner Dolphin is found, it has proven to be very difficult to find out how many of them remain out there. Yet we have lost about two million of them in the past 60 years. This is due to humans hunting them, their natural environment being destroyed, pollution, and stress caused by additional noise.
This is why it surprises so many people to discover that the Spinner Dolphin is classified as an endangered species. There are some great efforts in place to offer both awareness and protection to these animals though. Only time will tell if they are going to be enough to help them have a future as well as a good quality of life though.