Educational Resources-Dolphin Adaptation

Adaptations for the Aquatic Environment (Busch, 2002)

bottlenose dolphin

This section is designed to aid the teachers in fulfilling the following AHSGE Standards and Objectives requirements:

  • Standard: I-1
  • Standard: II-1
  • Standard: III-3
  • Standard: VI-1


  • Swimming:

The bottlenose dolphins usually swims at speeds of 3-7 miles per hour. (Goforth, 1990, and Fish and Hui, 1991)

  • Diving:
    1. Depending on the habitat dolphin usually dives between 10 to 150 ft and can stay underwater for 8-10 minutes
    2. Dolphins have a slower heart rate when in a dive. The blood is rerouted from the tissues to the heart, lungs and brain so that the maximum amount of oxygen can reach these areas
    3. Myoglobin is a protein that stores oxygen in the muscles and is found in high levels in the muscles of bottle nose dolphins
  • Respiration:
    1. Since the bottlenose dolphin is a mammal, they require air to breath. There is a blowhole located on the dorsal surface of the dolphins head.(See anatomy for location)
    2. The dolphin must hold its breath while under water and surface to get air. As they surface, the air is exhaled out of the blowhole, and a quick breath is taken before closing the blow hole and returning underwater
  • Sleep:

When studying sleeping patterns in the bottlenose dolphin, it was found that out of a 24 hour period, dolphins sleep about 1/3 of the time.

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