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Dolphin anatomy

The dolphin anatomy is similar despite the dolphin specie. In this article, I will share with you the use as well as numerous facts about dolphins main body parts.


The beak which is also known as a snout covers the teeth and jaws of this marine mammal. Beside eating and communicating dolphins are also known to use their snout to defend themselves against predators such as sharks. They will hit the shark in his weakest areas such as its gills which will cause the shark to drown or the stomach which can create internal bleeding of its poorly protected organs.

What is the melon of a dolphin? It is an organ mainly composed of oily and fatty tissue which acts like a lens in the echolocation process. When the dolphin emits clicking sounds to locate its prey, the melon will focus the sounds which will bounce against an object or prey and as it receives it, the brain will analyze the information and allow the dolphin to see better and locate the prey. Dolphins echolocation can be used on long distances. The stronger the sound, the closer the prey, the weaker the sound, the farther is the prey.

Both, the dorsal fin and the pectoral fins are used for steering. The dorsal fin is also allowing experts to follow certain individuals as the dorsal fin often displays a peculiar shape, cuts or scars which allows easier identification.

The tail is mainly composed of two strong flukes which move up and down contrary to fish which tails move from side to side. When you want to know how to make the difference between a shark and a dolphin at the surface of the water, if you see one fin, it is a dolphin, if you see two…get out of the way, it is a shark. The tail and its flukes are very strong and allow dolphins to swim through water with strength and speed as well as propel themselves out of the water and even "dance" on their tail at times.

The blowhole is used as both the entrance of oxygen and the exit of carbon dioxide. The air sacs contain enough oxygen to be able to swim underwater for approximately 30 minutes at a time. A plug closes the vent when underwater. If for a reason or another, a dolphin is unable to go to the surface to breath, it will drown such as a human would. This is why when caught in fishing nets, dolphins end up drowning which for certain species, is one of the reasons why their specie is either vulnerable or on the list of endangered dolphins.

Another important part of the dolphin anatomy is the skin. At birth, the calf is covered with a thin layer of hair which quickly disappears. The skin of the dolphin is otherwise hairless which allows them to swim faster and easier in the water. Their skin also change regularly which explains the absence of parasites on it. The dolphin skin is also acting like a wet suit to protect it against the cold as it is insulated by a coating of blubber which is about 2-3 cm thick and is also acting as a source of both energy and nutrients when food is not as plentiful.


If you wish to see the diagram of the basic dolphin anatomy, I invite you to go on the main page of this site called: "Facts about dolphins". On this page you will also be able to learn more information about dolphins.




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