Creature of the Month

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The dolphin is inquisitive, intelligent, and even capable of learning human-taught language. Dolphins have been known for saving human lives at sea and even make remarkable therapy animals for the disabled. 

Dolphins live in nearly every ocean and sea, from the Arctic to Antarctica. There are 32 species of marine dolphins and four kinds of river dolphins, and each species has its own preferred habitat.

Dolphins eat all kinds of fish (favorites are mackerel, herring, mullet, and cod), squid, octupus, and crustaceans. An average size dolphin will eat 30 to 50 pounds of food per day.

Dolphins are very social and live in groups called pods. There is a hierarchy with males dominant over females. When different groups meet, they engage in a greeting ceremony; they leap, chase, and touch each other, thus re-establishing social relationships. Although dolphins can live individually, groups can range from a few to 500 individuals.

Dolphins and porpoises are not the same animal; in fact, they come from different whale families. For one thing, they differ physically: Most dolphins have a distinctive pointed beak whereas porpoises have a more rounded beak. Also, dolphins have hook-shaped dorsal fins, unlike the porpoises' triangular-shaped one.

Dolphins cannot go into a deep sleep because when unconscious, they forget to breathe and would suffocate. A dolphin can only sleep by letting one half of its brain sleep at a time.