Panama City Beach is home to one of the highest concentrations of bottlenose dolphins in the world. With their perpetual smile and friendly personalities, it’s no wonder visitors and residents alike, enjoy spending time off the beautiful shores of Shell Island to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. But there are many myths about these marine animals and we’d like to dispel 13 of them:
1. Bottlenose Dolphin are Fish
False! Just because they live in the water does not make them part of the fish family. As a matter of fact, they are more closely related to you than the sharks they swim with! Because they have warm blood and give birth to live young, they are part of the mammal family like you and me!
2. Spray Water from their Blowholes
False! Just like humans, bottlenose dolphin have lungs and breathe air. When they surface, they exhale through the blowhole at the top of their head and often this sends the water around them up in a spray. But the water did not come from their lungs!
3. Solitary Animals
False! As a matter of fact, bottlenose dolphin are one of the most social animals in the ocean. Dolphin live in groups called pods. Larger pods are often made up of smaller groups of families consisting of several females with their calves (babies) and one or two males.
4. Lots of Teeth for Chewing
False-well sort of. Though bottlenose dolphin have many conical shaped teeth on their upper and lower jaws, dolphin do not use them for chewing. With a diet consisting of fish and shrimp, bottlenose dolphin swallow all their meals whole. If a fish is too big to swallow in one gulp, they have been seen banging it against a rock or slapping it on the surface of the water to break it into manageable pieces.
5. Dumb as a Rock
False! Dolphins are highly intelligent. For decades dolphins held in captivity have been taught numerous tricks both individually and in groups. One trainer working with a pair of dolphin showed how they could not only show her new tricks, but they could coordinate it so they executed the trick in tandem.
6. All Work and No Play
False! Bottlenose dolphin love to play. They have been recorded chasing their own air bubbles underwater or making a game of keep-away with a piece of seaweed.
7. Nothing to Say
False! Bottlenose dolphin are very chatty. Though scientists can’t translate their clicks and whistles, it does seem that they talk to each other about group hunting and in some pods, it appears they even give each other names!
8. Fear Sharks
False! It seems humans aren’t the only ones with a dislike for these prehistoric fish. Scientists have witnessed groups of dolphin circling a shark and ramming it with their long snouts until they inflict a mortal strike. Scuba divers also have stories of solitary dolphin ramming and scaring off sharks who were going to attack.
9. Never Sleep
False! Though it is true dolphins can’t rest completely because they have to continually surface to breathe, research scientists have found that dolphins have the unique ability to let one side of their brain sleep while the other half stays awake and alert for danger.
10. Bottlenose Dolphin Lay Eggs
False! Like all mammals, bottlenose dolphin give birth to live young. There is often a dolphin “midwife” nearby to help the newborn calf to the surface for its first breath. Mothers produce milk, feeding their calf from their nipples, until they are capable of eating fish-usually at about a year old.
11. Well Behaved
False! Adolescent male dolphin, usually in search of a wife or two, have been known to play all kinds of tricks on the males of family groups in hopes of seducing away some their females.
12. Blind as a Bat
False! Not only do bottlenose dolphin use sonar to hunt and keep track of the world around them, their eyes are designed to see well both above and below the surface of the water. Dolphins often “spyhop” or swim vertically in the water so they peer at visitors peering at them!
13. Bottlenose Dolphin are Boring
False! One of the main attractions for people visiting Panama City Beach are our awesome dolphin tours!!! There’s nothing like seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat. Let DOLPHIN EXPRESS be your tour guide! With a Captain who knows just where to find the local pod of bottlenose dolphin and a crew excited to keep you entertained on the trip to and from Shell Island, we have no doubt you’ll be talking about your Panama City Beach dolphin tour for years to come!
Give us a call, stop by Lighthouse Marina or use our convenient online feature to book your adventure today!