Dolphins are popular among humans and for good reasons. They are adorable, friendly and very smart. So you think you know everything about dolphins huh? You probably know already that they are mammals and not fish. But when we hear the word dolphins, the picture that usually comes to mind is that of the bottlenose dolphins that we see in movies and water parks. But the truth is, there are 36 species of dolphins.
There are types of dolphins that you probably didn’t even know were dolphins. What’s more amazing is that some of these dolphins have the word whale in their names and are commonly mistaken as being members of a completely different family of sea animals. Here, you will get to know more about these species of dolphins.
You probably won’t believe it but orcas actually belong to the dolphin family and are actually among the 36 dolphin species. They can also be considered as the scariest, hence the nickname. Orcas are called killer whales because in the ocean, they are pretty much at the top of the food chain. They are so ferocious that they are known to routinely eat great white sharks which is one of man’s most feared sea creatures. But do killer whales kill humans? Well, they are not really considered a threat. There have been reports of killer whales in marine parks though who have killed or injured their handlers. Bonus fact: the scientific name of the killer whale is Orcinus orca which comes from the Orcus, the name of the Roman god of death.
Next to killer whales, pilot whales are the second largest species of dolphins. There are two types of pilot whales, the long-finned pilot whale and the short-finned pilot whale. The former lives in cold waters while the latter can be found in tropical and subtropical waters. Pilot whales, along with other large species of dolphins, are also known as blackfish. Like most species of dolphins, pilot whales are very social. An unusual trait of these species though is that their young remain in their mothers’ pods. Many pilot whales get stranded on beaches making them an easy prey among fishermen. There are several theories for this but no one can give a conclusive answer. Pilot whales are named as such because it is believed that their pods are “piloted” by a leader.
Closely related to the pilot whale is the melon-headed whale and is also known as blackfish. Although widespread in the tropical waters around the world, this species of dolphin are rarely seen because they prefer to swim in deep waters. The melon-head whale got its name from the appearance of its head which is shaped like a rounded cone. The melon-head is another social animal and that they gather in large groups numbering to hundreds even thousands at a time. An interesting fact about this kind of dolphin is that it is a fast swimmer. Like other dolphins, it can also jump from the sea surface resulting to huge splashes of water.