Dolphins playing dolphins playing Egmont Key Boat Trip

Dolphin watching

Snorkeling & Shell Collecting


Dolphin watching is one of the most enjoyed activities of visitors to Florida's Gulf Coast
Dolphin Facts Page Two


How smart are dolphins?
The short answer to this is that we do not know. There is no reliable method to measure intelligence in humans across cultures, so it is not surprising that comparing humans, dolphins, apes, dogs, etc. is impossible. There are some indications of their potential: they are fast learners and can generalize (which is also true of pigs). Also they can learn to understand complicated language-like commands (which is also true of the great apes).

The majority of small tooth whales are called dolphins.  They are mammals of the order Cetacea and the families Plantanistidae and Delphinidae and include about 50 species.  All have a beak-like snout and sharp, conical teeth.  The term porpoise is sometimes applied to many of the same species, but porpoises, are members of the family Phocaenidae and have a blunt snout and spade or chisel shaped teeth.  The fish that is also called a "dolphin"  is neither a dolphin nor a porpoise.  It is a sport fish related to mackerels.


Dolphins feed on live food and are predators, except when trained otherwise in captivity.  The primary food is fish, mostly things like herring, mackerel, and sardines.  Some species seem to prefer squid, occasionally, shrimp and other crustacean are consumed, and even mollusk shells have been found in their stomach contents.  Food consumption is estimated at about 66 lb a day for an individual about 8.2 ft in length and 220 lb in weight.

The body is sleek and smooth and the hairless skin is rubbery to the touch.  Most species have jaws that protrude into a beak-like snout.  Above the upper jaw is a large mass of fat and oil-containing tissue forming the melon that looks much like a  forehead.

The anterior appendages contain the skeletal remnants of five digits that form the flippers, which the animal uses primarily as stabilizers, although occasionally in an oar like fashion.  The hind appendages are virtually absent and consist of a pair of small pelvic bones, deeply embedded in the connective tissue at the base of the tail.  The dorsal fin is formed from subcutaneous dermal tissue and is not movable by muscle action.  The caudal, or tail, fin is also primarily dermal in origin, rather than skeletal, and consists of a pair of horizontally extending flukes.  The locomotion of dolphins is typical of the whale.  

The  thrust comes from vertical oscillations of the tail and flukes, and most species tested are capable of sustained swimming speeds of up to 18.6 mph and they jump at this high speeds going 30 ft or more.  Their normal "cruising speed" is about 23 to 25 mph, and if they are bow riding, they have been known to get up to 30mph.  Bow riding is when the dolphin rides the bow of a wave produced by a mono-hull boat


 Dolphin Facts page one

Dolphin Fact page three