Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - July 14,
The amazing and mezmerizing dolphins Looking for a little adventure on a stormy Florida
Saturday, visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to
the rescue, rehabilitation and release of injured marine wildlife.
The aquarium has a full schedule of educational classes and field adventures but for
this Saturday we chose just to wander around and visit the resident animals.
Its impossible not to burst into laughter while viewing the North American
River Otters frolicking in play, rolling and teasing each other in their river
habitat. Youll also be amazed at the sharks and underwater creatures displayed
in huge tanks on the first floor but one of the highlights of the day is attending
the dolphin presentation upstairs.
The Dolphin Pool is a safe house for dolphins unable to survive in the wild. Our
volunteer taught us many things about dolphins and then introduced us to several
resident dolphins that have been rescued by the CMA Stranding Team. Dolphin antics
are delightful and entertaining, as well as educational.
One of the dolphins was more than willing to swim on his back to show off his cute
little belly button. All the children and adults cheered loudly.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is almost entirely staffed by volunteers.
Theyre always in need of qualified assistance, so you might want to check them
out if youre searching for rewarding volunteer hours.
Many people want to know what the differences between the dolphin and the porpoise
are. These differences include the shape of their skulls, beaks (rostrum), and their
dorsal fins. (CMA has replica skulls on display so you can see the difference.)
Dolphins and porpoises also belong to different families. Dolphins,
dolphin-delphinidae are larger than porpoises, have distinct beaks and bulbous
foreheads (melons), conical teeth and are usually quite social and playful. Dolphins
are toothed whales belonging to the sub-order odontocetes, of the order cetacea. They
are often referred to as small cetaceans, but some of them are very large. This
family is represented by about 30 species, including common Dolphins, pilot whales,
killer whales, and false killer whales. Porpoises, porpoise-phocoenidae usually lack
melons, have little or no beaks, and are found in small solitary groups.
The common dolphin has a black back and flippers, sides are yellowish blending into
white. They also have a white patch over their snout and a black patch around their
eyes. Their snouts are beaked. The bottle-nosed dolphin is gray above and creamy
white below. They have a short protruding snout.
Dolphins prefer warm coastal waters, inlets and bays, like the attractive
environment of Johns Pass where one can observe dolphins playing most any
evening. Theyre especially active as the fishing boats return and begin to
clean their days catch. This is also a perfect time to observe some of our
coastal sea birds including, the great blue heron, snowy egret, great white heron,
brown and white pelicans, little green heron and the great egret.
Dolphins, known for their high intelligence, are noted caregivers of their young, as
well as for having highly skilled fishing abilities. When feeding, the dolphin will
move up to speeds of 12 to 15 mph. When cruising, this speed increases to 16 to 17
Bottlenose dolphins are the most common dolphins that inhabit our region around the
Gulf of Mexico. Estimated figures put this population at about 67,000. Bottlenose
dolphins measured off Sarasota averaged 8.2 to 8.9 feet and weighed between 419 to
573 pounds. The size of dolphins varies widely from place to place but they average
between 9 to 12 feet and between 400 to 1,430 pounds.
In the wild, the bottlenose dolphins feed on squid, shrimp and a diversity of fish,
breathing through their blowholes. As well, dolphins emit a variety of squeals,
chirps and whistles through these blowholes. A very handy device.
Dolphins are awesome, interesting creatures and somehow conjure up a special
affection within us, like we know them from somewhere, like they are somehow more
like relatives than unrelated mammals of the deep, blue sea. They hold the mystery of
stories untold, of a secret they arent quite ready to share.
Need a little adventure? Why not take a trip to back to nature and visit the
Clearwater Marine Aquarium, commune with dolphins, caress a stingray or observe a
lumbering Loggerhead sea turtle. The Clearwater Marine Museum is located at 249
Windward Passage, Clearwater, or you can give them a call at 441-1790 or how about
logging on to their Web site at www.cmaquarium.org.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.