In my post about our trip to Cancun I mentioned that I would elaborate on our swim with dolphins. I want to include some background that I learned during this experience also because I believe that is truly one of the best parts of this encounter. We all see dolphins in the movies and on TV and romanticize about them and their keen intelligence. They are beautiful creatures and I would not hesitate to do this again. Our experience was at Dolphinaris just minutes from the hotel zone in Cancun.
Let's start with the basics: Dolphins are mammals and as all mammals they nurse their young from mammary glands. They are social in nature and live in groups. They cooperate among each other in activities such as getting food and raising their calves. Dolphins are able to work together like this through efficient communication making a unique signature whistle that may help individual dolphins recognize each other, collaborate and perform other kinds of communication as well. They use echolocation, a technique with similar principles as radar to find food and to navigate. Dolphins are warm-blooded, as mammals are, and their internal temperature is around 36 degrees Celsius or 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to conserve this temperature they are surrounded by blubber (a thick layer of fat) just below the skin.
Dolphins are a biological order called Cetacean with 32 species of ocean dolphins and 5 species of river (freshwater) dolphins. The order has two suborders which are Mysticeti, or baleen whales, and Odontoceti, which are toothed whales including dolphins and porpoises. As kindly as dolphins are it is interesting to note that the largest dolphin is the Orcinus orca - better known as the killer whale or the Orca. The Orca can grow up to 6.1 meters (20 feet) and are called whales because of their size.
The most popular dolphin and the type of dolphin that we swam with is the bottlenose dolphin. These are usually the dolphins used in movies, TV shows and aquatic shows. The bottlenose dolphin can grow up to 2.5 - 2.8 meters (8 or 9 feet). The dolphin we swam with is a young 4 year old male by the name of Solomon. This was more interesting and personal for us since my dad's name is Solomon!
Dolphins breach the surface of the water in order to breathe but can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes. While they are typically shallow divers they can swim up to 260 meters (850 feet) below the ocean's surface. Dolphins can also deliver on speed swimming 5 to 12 km/hr and going as fast as 32 km/hr (or 3 to 7 miles/hr and as fast as 20 miles/hr).
Many people consider them a very intelligent species as well. The dolphin brain weighs 1500 - 1600 grams while the human brain weighs 1200 - 1300 grams (dolphin: 3.3 - 3.5 pounds and human: 2.6 - 2.8 pounds). This may not be conclusive evidence of their intelligence but it sure doesn't disprove it either. Scientists do have many other factors for their intelligence in addition to this though and readily agree to their high intelligence.
Solomon was very gentle and even seemed loving to us. He liked to get your attention and to be pet - his skin was extremely soft and supple. He appeared very playful exuding tons of energy! We spent about an hour with him and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I was mesmerized by his sleek beauty and charisma (yes, he definitely had personality)! I look forward to our next swim with Solomon . . .