13 Gorgeous Photos of Dolphins in the Wild
Discover the true majesty of these marine animals in their natural habitat.
Comprised of 44 species, from pink Amazon river inhabitants to killer whales, and spread across almost every one of Earth's oceans and many of its rivers, dolphins are among the most diverse and complex mammals on earth. These majestic marine dwellers create elaborate social hierarchies, languages, games, and even work out childcare arrangements with one another, making them some of the world's most fascinating animals, even to those who wouldn't dare set foot in the ocean. Herein, we've compiled the most stunning photos of these majestic creatures in their natural habitats.
This Mealtime Roundup
Dolphins have plenty of tricks up their proverbial sleeves (er, fins) when it comes to ensuring they get a good meal. In this photo, a group of dolphins is herding a school of sardines, swimming around them so the small fish pack closer and closer together. This enables the dolphins to eventually swim through the tightly-packed school and eat as many fish as possible at once.
This Majestic Jumper
According to the Sea Watch Foundation in the UK, the bottlenose dolphin can jump as high as 4.9 meters—that's just over 16 feet!
This Speedy Swimmer
Since dolphins are mammals, they need to breathe air into their lungs just like humans. But while we have nostrils on our noses, dolphins have blowholes on top of their heads that they use to breathe air in and out.
This Protective Mama
This dolphin isn't just an overprotective parent—dolphin calves typically travel with their moms until they're up to six years old, learning to find their own meals, communicate, and find their group's dwelling if they stray from home.
This Photogenic Pal
Divers constantly run into dolphins during their underwater excursions. This guy in particular was lucky enough to get up close and personal with a friendly fellow!
These Cuddling Creatures
Okay, so we don't actually know whether or not these dolphins are cuddling, but we'd like to imagine that they are, anyway.
This Mobile Mammal
According to the Dolphin Communication Project, these speedy swimmers can travel as fast as 7.8 miles per hour. (For reference, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is estimated to swim at a maximum of 6 miles per hour.)
These Pink Pals
Unlike other mammals with lighter-than-average coloring, these Amazon river dolphins don't owe their pink hue to albinism. These dolphins actually tend to look more like their oceanic counterparts at birth, typically bearing a bluish-gray color and becoming pinker over time.
This Wave-Riding Crew
While it certainly looks like a good time, wave-riding isn't all fun and games for dolphins. Dolphins frequently catch waves as a way of moving through the water faster, although they do combine this purposeful travel with forms of play and aggression, from trying to overtake one another to hitting each other with their tails.
These Synchronized Swimmers
Move over, Esther Williams. While these dolphins may look like they're posing for a photo op, their synchronized swimming serves a greater purpose, too: Research suggests that synchronized swimming is a form of social bonding for dolphins and can even make them more optimistic.
These Aerodynamic Mammals
Dolphins don't just do their impressive jumps for fun—they fly above the water to socialize, communicate, move faster, and as a means of seeing what's ahead of them—some researchers also believe that reentry into the water helps them clean themselves.
This Hungry Fellow
While dolphins frequently feast on fish like this fellow here, that's far from the only food in their diet. Depending on the type of dolphin and their environment, dolphins frequently consume squid, jellyfish, krill, crabs, and shrimp, while species like orcas often consume mammals like sea lions, as well.
This Bonded Pack
It takes a village to raise a child—or a dolphin calf, for that matter. As seen in this photo, mother dolphins will frequently enlist the help of a fellow adult dolphin to help her raise her young. And for more fascinating fauna, discover The 30 Rarest Animals on the Planet.
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