Bottlenose dolphin are amazing creatures. Their perpetual smile and natural curiosity make them a crowd favorite in Panama City Beach. With one of the highest concentrations of wild bottlenose dolphin in the world off the shores of Shell Island, there’s no doubt we’re in the perfect place for you to see these beautiful marine mammals in their natural habitat. But what exactly makes them perfectly adapted to the ocean waters of the Gulf?
The Perfect Figure
Bottlenose dolphin are fusiform, meaning they are wide in the middle and tapered at both ends. With less drag and blubber below the skin to smooth the surface of the dolphin, their body type make them energy-efficient swimmers. Dolphin have the ability to perform short bursts of high speeds which allow them to leap out of the water. When traveling long distances, dolphin will sometimes break free of the water, flying up and out in one continuous motion. This type of swimming, referred to as porpoising, actually uses less energy than swimming at high speeds along the surface.
Unlike fish that have gills for filtering air from the water, dolphin have lungs and breathe air. This means when they’re underwater, they have to hold their breath just like you and me. But their nose isn’t on their face-it’s on the top of their head! Breathing is done through a single blowhole that is covered with a muscular flap, which is watertight when relaxed. In order to breathe, they must contract the muscles, open the blowhole and exhale just before reaching the surface (which is why it looks like water spews from the hole). At the surface, the dolphin quickly inhales and then relaxes the muscular flap to close the blowhole before diving back down.
How Low Can You Go
Though the bottlenose dolphin living in the shallow waters around Shell Island don’t have to dive deep to catch their food, they are capable of diving to great depths. Dolphin have been recorded holding their breath for up to 20 minutes and diving to a depth of over 1700 feet! When dolphins dive their heart rates slow and blood is shunted away from the tail and flippers to better supply the brain and heart.
Cold Ocean, Warm Heart
Dolphin are surrounded by water that is colder than their bodies. This means they have to put out a lot of energy to stay warm. Their rounded body shape and thick layer of fatty blubber help insulate their organs from the ocean waters around them. Dolphin have a higher metabolic rate, which also generates heat.
Seeing is Believing
There’s no doubt bottlenose dolphin are truly adapted for living in the ocean. But don’t take our word for it-come see for yourself! Why not join DOLPHIN EXPRESS for a dolphin tour in Panama City Beach and let our knowledgeable Captain share the secrets of these amazing creatures. With competitive rates and multiple tours daily, we have no doubt we can fit into any busy vacation. Give us call, stop by our location on Lighthouse Marina or use our convenient online feature to book your dolphin tour today!