Dolphins are one of the oceans greatest treasures, and most loved marine mammals, by humans. They are quite intelligent animals, which have a playful and friendly nature and attitude, which is why they are so loved and popular to us.
They are part of the marine mammal kingdom and are related to whales and porpoises. There are around 40 known dolphin species around the world. The most commonly found species in Australian waters, particularly on the east coast, are the Bottlenose dolphin, and the Indo-Pacific Hump-Backed dolphin. These two species of dolphin are particularly commonly cited in Moreton Bay.
Dolphins usually live in complex societies, where off shore they will often be found in groups of hundreds, and on shore, you are more likely to see the dolphins in much smaller groups of around 10-15.
One of the most fascinating things about dolphins is their behaviour. There are a number of different types of behaviours dolphins will usually be seen doing, one of them is called ‘fish play’.
Fish play is where dolphins playfully toss fish in the air before, during and after feeding. It can look like they are playing ping pong between each other, as they hit the fish back and forth. As well as providing entertainment for them, this can also hone their hunting skills.
Another behaviour in which dolphins do regularly is called ‘inverted hunting’. This is where dolphins will swim upside down, with their bellies exposed to the surface, allowing them to catch prey that is lurking very close to the surface of the water. They do this because swimming normally doesn’t allow them to reach that area of the water because the bones in their neck are fused, which gives them very limited flexibility, and they are unable to look above them.
Spy hopping is also a regular dolphin behaviour. This is where a dolphin will vertically lift its head above the surface of the water, which allows them to get a clear view of the water above them. It is thought by doing this action they are able to locate their prey, threats and landmarks.
‘Tail Slapping & Chuffing’
Much like humans, dolphins also have ways of expressing their frustration or annoyance, which is often expressed through tail slapping, and/or explosive exhaling or ‘chuffing’. Tail slapping is where dolphins will lift their tails out of the water and slap it back down onto the water in a forceful manor. Chuffing is where they will come to the surface and will expel air from their lungs in a dynamic nature, making a strident puffing sound.
These are just some of the behaviours in which dolphins are known for. Most of these, yet hopefully not the chuffing or tail slapping, can be seen at the Tangalooma dolphin feeding, in which they hold nightly.
The Tangalooma dolphin feeding program is a great activity to get involved with if you are on a family holiday at Tangalooma, or just going over for a day trip. The program allows participants to get up close and personal with the local dolphins, and even feed them.
If you want to see dolphins playing and observe all of their intricate and entertaining behaviours, head on over to Tangalooma Island Resort for your next family beach holiday, or you can even just pop on over for a day trip.