It's baby time!
Image by: Al Sweeting, Jr.


Interesting facts

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Atlantic spotted dolphins reproduce and live just like most of the other dolphin species out there.  For starters, they reproduce by sexual reproduction.  Atlantic spotted dolphins do not remain with a single partner for their life.  Males visit pods of females and mate with as many as they can.  The main sexual signal that dolphins exhibit is breaching.  Breaching is when the dolphin leaps above the surface of the water and then reenters the water.  This shows the other dolphins that it is ready to mate.  Dolphins don't just do the deed and leave.  Before they even mate, they stroke each other with their fins.  They do this again when they are done.

Now that they have mated, the babies come next.  The typical female dolphin has a gestation period of about 11.5 months.  Most females give birth to one live calf.  Twins are extremely rare, though they have been known to occur both in captivity and the wild.  Scientists believe that
evolution has changed reproduction for these dolphins because it has been found in some embryos that there are four rudimentary nipples, which leads scientists to believe that these organisms once gave birth to large litters.

When born, the calf emerges tail first.  Once the calf is born, its mother brings it to the surface for its first breath.  Without this, the baby would drown because it doesn't know where to go.  After it has received its first breath, it nurses.  While her baby begins to learn how to breath and nurse, the mother floats on her side so the calf can nurse and have its blowhole above water.  This allows the calf to breathe and nurse at the same time.
Image courtesy of: Al Sweeting, Jr.

As the calf matures, it begins to nurse underwater.  This
species of dolphin usually has its offspring breast-feed for about 11 months.  Calves must breathe every 10-20 seconds.  This means that feeding must be brief.  The milk from the Atlantic spotted dolphin (and most other dolphin species) is 40% fat, giving the calf lots of nutrients and energy to grow.

Most dolphins are a part of a pod.  Pods are each dolphin's family members.  These are usually close relations, such as aunts, sisters, etc.  Atlantic spotted dolphins reach maturity between ages 6 and 8 (this usually coincides with the dolphin reaching 6.5 feet in length).  Pods are usually less than 50 dolphins.  Mother and calf may remain together for life.  While the calf is young, its mother protects it from dangers (such as sharks, nets, and even people).  However, sometimes the calf can be orphaned.  If this occurs, the orphaned calf can be "adopted" by another member of the pod.

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