But, you gotta have friends!
Image by: Jacqueline RussellImage courtesy of: Jacqueline RussellImage by: Jacqueline RussellImage courtesy of: Jacqueline RussellImage courtesy of: Jacqueline Russell


Interesting facts

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Atlantic spotted dolphins are a very friendly group of organisms.  They like to be around other organisms that interact with them.  This is a very carefree and energetic species of dolphin.  Atlantic spotted dolphins travel and live in groups, called pods.  These pods are indeed family.  They are made up of aunts, sisters, mothers, and children.  Atlantic spotted dolphins also like to be around other species of dolphins, typically spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins.  They have even been known to hunt with those other dolphins.  When they are in hunting mode, these dolphins tend to follow large schools of their prey (their favorite- tuna!). 

When talking about the food chain, Atlantic spotted dolphins can be the very top or at least very close to the top.  These dolphins are predators (and carnivores, at that).  Though they are efficient predators, they can be harmed or even killed by sharks, other whales, and people.  The Atlantic spotted dolphin can defend itself fairly well.  Their snout is often used to bat sharks in their gills, thus causing excruciating pain to the shark and allowing the dolphin to escape. 

Though they are predators, dolphins also have internal parasites that invade the dolphin from its food.  Nematodes, trematodes, and other small parasites are found in large numbers throughout the ocean.  Sometimes they can be harmless or even beneficial.  Some organisms can live long lives with many parasites in their bodies.  When they are found in the bodies of dolphins, they evoke harmful effects that can weaken the dolphin's body.  Dolphins can be prone to nematodes that invade the heart, kidneys, and lungs where they can damage nerves and can also cause horrible pain for the dolphin.  Here's an interesting fact for you!  When a dolphin is being affected by a nematode in this fashion, it will bash its head against hard objects because of the stress.  The dolphin will also throw itself ashore so it'll die and relieve itself of the misery! 
Image by: Al Sweeting, Jr.

People generally like dolphins and don't harm them.  If the dolphin is used to people and is comfortable around them, the dolphin can interact and play with the human.  These dolphins (and other dolphin species) have been known to save sailors and those lost at sea.  When they interact with people in boats, or just playing in the ocean, these dolphins like to spray people with water, pop up from nowhere, or initiate games (like poking people with their snouts or tugging at flippers of divers).  When people do harm dolphins, it is a sad story.  Dolphins are still used in some products today.  Fertilizer is the biggest.  They are also sometimes slaughtered if they interfere with the tuna  boats (that is, if they didn't die first from being tangled in the nets).  Another big killer of these dolphins is when people poison the waters with chemicals.  Happily, the number of dolphins being killed for these things is declining year after year!

Though people have caused harm, we have also learned a lot from these dolphins.  Dolphins are seen today in captivity, such as zoos and parks.  They are even used sometimes to help the military find bombs or submarines underwater (by using their
echolocation).  Dolphins are also being used to educate people on why they are needed in the wild, as predators and organisms living their day-to-day lives.

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