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Spinner Dolphin

Spinner Dolphin

Stenella longirostris

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Mammal

Description

Spinner dolphins are the acrobats of the ocean. They love to jump, flip, and twist above the surface of the water. Spinner dolphins earned their name because of their ability to spin multiple times in one jump. Scientists believe they spin for several reasons, including communication, removing parasites, and simply for the fun of it. Spinner dolphins are about 6.5 feet long with a long, thin snout. They have white bellies and dark gray backs.

Range

Spinner dolphins live in warm ocean waters around the world. There are different populations, including one near Thailand, along the Pacific Ocean coast of Central America, and around the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii population tends to spend more time near the shore than other spinner dolphins and are more social with people and boats.

Diet

Spinner dolphins are carnivores. They eat fish and squid. At night, spinner dolphins travel to deeper water to eat. In the morning, they move back to shallow water to rest, play, and watch for predators such as sharks.

Behavior

Spinner dolphins travel in groups called schools, which can be very large, sometimes with hundreds of dolphins together. Spinner dolphins don’t mind traveling and feeding with other species, including humpback whales, tunas, and other dolphins.

Conservation

Tuna fishing is one of the biggest threats to spinner dolphins. As the dolphins swim with tuna, they get trapped in fishing nets. Many tuna companies now use dolphin-safe fishing methods that release dolphins if they get caught in nets.

Fun Fact

Dolphins communicate with one another through echolocation. They have special hearing that allows them to utilize sounds to determine the size, movement, and position of objects. Dolphins will slap the surface of water to communicate with other dolphins that there is food, danger, or that the school is moving somewhere new.

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