How do whales and dolphins feed their babies

How Do Whales Breastfeed Underwater? – North American Nature

On a recent whale watching trip, I asked one of the guides about how whales breastfeed underwater. His answer intrigued me, so I conducted further research into this when I got back to shore.

Whales have inverted nipples inside mammary slits. When the calf is ready to feed, they dive underneath the mother and nudge the mammary slits. The nipple is released, and the mother provides milk to the calf.

I found this interesting and wanted to find out some more information. If you want to find out more, please read on.

If you or someone you know loves whales, then check out these great whale gifts on Amazon by clicking here

How Do Whales Breastfeed? 

Whales have inverted nipples inside slits that hold the mammaries. When the calf wants to feed, they nudge the mammary slits from underneath and the mother releases the nipple. When the nipple is released, the whale rolls its tongue around it to drink the milk.

Many ocean mammals have evolved and developed unique mechanisms that enable them to survive in their environments. In the case of the whale, they need their own mechanisms of breastfeeding. Whales are surrounded by water, and breastfeeding in this kind of environment is not an easy occurrence.

Ever wondered why whales breach? Find out here

Do Whales Produce Milk?

Whales are sea mammals and possess the typical characteristics of all mammals. Whales have mammary glands and produce milk to feed their young.  Milk has high concentrations of fat which is essential for young whales to grow fat to keep them warm.

Depending on the whale species, the calves require plenty of milk to grow and stay healthy. Generally, a young calf can consume approximately 10 percent of its body weight per day in milk. The blue whale is the largest whale species, and females can produce over 200 liters of milk in a single day .

Do Whales Have Nipples?

Whales do have nipples, but they are not extended on the outside as in humans. Nipples can also be found on most male whales as well. Whales spend their entire life inside the water, so nipples and breasts outside would not be the best place.

Whale nipples are enclosed within folds of skin, referred to as mammary slits. Whenever a calf wants to nurse, it nudges the mammary slits, which stimulates the mother to expose the nipples.

Find out how whales evolved in this article I wrote

Whales have inverted nipples. This is not the same as terrestrial mammals that have protruding nipples. When the calf is ready to feed, they dive underneath the mother and nudge the mammary slits.

This signals to the mother that the calf is ready to feed and stimulates the mammary slit to release the nipples.

After stimulation, the whale lets out the nipples from the mammary slits, and the young calf wraps its mouth around it. This ensures that the milk is channeled directly into the mouth and that none of the milk is lost into the water. 

The baby whales roll their tongue into a tube or U-shape. The rolled tongue is then pressed onto the upper palate and placed around the nipple. The whale mother then ejects milk right into the mouth of the calf. The mammary glands have particular muscles that first contract, then shoot out milk directly into the mouth.

Whales have excellent senses. Find out more here

What is The Consistency of Whale Milk?

The whale milk has a very thick consistency. The milk is almost solid. The thickness is attributed to the high-fat concentration that can reach up to 50% fat in some whale species. The consistency and texture of the whale milk are compared to that of toothpaste. 

Whale milk is said to taste like a mix of oil, fish, liver, and milk of magnesia. It contains about 450 calories per 100 grams, with over 10% protein. Whale milk is not fit for human consumption due to the high-fat content. The color of whale milk can range from a creamy color to a greenish-yellow.

Whales produce large amounts of milk to sustain the survival of their young ones. The blue whale calf gains weight at a remarkable rate of 100 kgs in a single day. This means that it must suckle over 150 liters of milk a day. The liquid is also very rich in all the nutrients vital for the calf’s growth.

One of the main reasons whales can successfully breastfeed underwater is the milk’s consistency. Whale milk has an unusually high-fat content that ranges between 35% to 50% fat in many species.  

The high-fat content makes the milk thick enough to pass through the water. Baby whales do not have lips and therefore cannot possibly nourish the same way as land mammals. High-fat concentration in the milk is necessary because the adult female whale can eject liquid into the calf’s mouth without dissolving it into the water around their lips.

Sperm whales feed on milk orally rather than through suckling. Sperm whales release milk directly into the water, and the calves feed on the milk from the water. 

Sperm whales have mouths that are not conveniently shaped to support suckling. Sperm whale calves can only feed on milk directly from the water.

Many people think whales are fish, but they are mammals. Find out why in this article I have written.

How Long do Whales Breastfeed?

There is only one breeding season for whales. The adult female whale mates with more than one male, increasing the chances of getting pregnant.

The female whales produce offspring every 1 to 5 years, although this depends mainly on the species. The whales do not reproduce more often, allowing plenty of time for the calves to grow fully and increase their survival chances.

The lactation habits differ between baleen whales and toothed whales. The baleen whales breastfeed their calves for a shorter period. The lactation period lasts between 5 to 7 months for baleen whales. During this time, the baleen whales fast, eating only small amounts of food.

Toothed whales breastfeed for a longer period than baleen whales. Their lactation period can last between 1 to 3 years. The mothers continue to feed in the usual way.

Breastfeeding in whales continues until the calf is old enough to survive on its own and hunt its own food. At six months old, baby whales are usually weaned but may continue to breastfeed. When weaning begins, the amount of milk produced gradually decreases.

Breastfeeding creates a close bond between a mother and her calf. There are times a calf will continue to suckle on the nipple even after lactation stops. Some species of whale have mother-child bonds that last a lifetime.

Whales often swim close to the shore. Find out why here

What is the Importance of Milk to the Young Whales? 

Similar to terrestrial mammals, milk is a vital part of a young whale’s existence. Baby whales rely on milk for healthy growth and nourishment. Newborn whales survive entirely on milk until they are ready for weaning.

Without milk, baby whales would have low survival rates and starve to death. Typically, a newly born whale consumes large amounts of milk in a day. The milk is their sole source of food at this time.

Whale milk is rich in all the nutrients required for the calf to grow well and thrive. The liquid is packed with healthy fats that provide energy for the rapidly growing calf. Other nutrients in the milk support bone development, boost the immune system, and ensure the brain’s proper functions.

Suckling milk creates an unbreakable bond between the mother and her calf. This is important in the development of the baby whale. Research has proved that the relationship between marine mammals and their parents is crucial for their survival.

Marine mammals living in captivity have a shorter lifespan than their counterparts in the wild. It is believed this is due to their inability to nurture naturally.

Do whales drink seawater?  Find out in this article I wrote

Whale milk contains a high concentration of fatty acids. The fat in milk plays a significant role in the development of blubber. Blubber is a thick layer of fat under the skin of marine mammals, such as whales.

Blubber develops as a whale grows. Since whales spend so much time underwater, they need a mechanism to keep their body temperatures constant and prevent excess heat loss. 

Blubber acts like an insulating layer against the cold from the water. The high-fat content from the milk enables the thick insulating fat layer to develop.

Many marine mammals survive cold conditions using a layer of fat.  Find out more about blubber in this article I wrote

Do Whales Feed Other Calves?

The emotional and social relationship that exists between whales and their calves is often unique. It is not common to find a female whale breastfeeding a calf other than her own.

However, some family groups are so close that they share the responsibility of taking care of the young ones. In such pods, a female whale can breastfeed a calf belonging to another whale. This only occurs in some whale species.

If you or someone you know loves whales then check out these great whale gifts on Amazon by clicking here

Recommended Books

Guide to whale watching in North America : USA, Canada, Mexico. Where to go, what to see.

Handbook of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises Of the World


Carwardine, M. (2017). Mark Carwardine’s guide to whale watching in North America : USA, Canada, Mexico, where to go, what to see. London: Bloomsbury.

Carwardine, M. (2010). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Bernhard Grzimek, Schlager, N., Olendorf, D. and American (2003). Grzimek’s animal life encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale.

Hadoram Shirihai, Jarrett, B., Graeme Cresswell and Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whales, dolphins and seals : a field guide to the marine mammals of the world. London: Bloomsbury Wildlife.

Martin, T. (1990). The illustrated encyclopedia of whales and dolphins. Hodder.

Nowak, R.M. and Walker, E.P. (1991). Walker’s mammals of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Perrin, W.F., Würsig, B.G. and J  G  M Thewissen (2002). Encyclopedia of marine mammals. San Diego: Academic Press.

Richard John Harrison and Bryden, M.M. (1990). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Merehurst.

Williams, H. (1988). Whale nation. London: Cape.

Wilson, D.E. (1999). The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press.

May, J. (1990). The Greenpeace book of dolphins. London: Century.

How Do Whales Drink Milk Underwater?

Written by Heather Hall

Updated: October 12, 2022

© Achimdiver/

More Great Content:

Key Points:
  • Whales are mammals and nurse their young just like cats and dogs.
  • Instead of sucking the milk in, like other mammals, the mama whale pushes the milk out to the baby whale.
  • Whales nurse their young from 1-3 years.

When you think of a mammal nursing its young you may picture a dog nursing her puppies or a mother fox nursing her kits. You may even imagine a baby giraffe getting milk from its mother. But do you ever envision a baby whale nursing its mother way out in the ocean? Just like those animals mentioned above, whales are mammals too. And yes, a mother whale nurses her baby. This brings up a basic and practical question: How do whales drink milk underwater?

Keep reading to find out how a mother whale is able to feed her baby underwater. Also, learn how long whales nurse their young, the special nutrients in a whale’s milk, and just how big a newborn whale can be!

How Do Whales Drink Milk Underwater?

A baby whale starts nursing immediately after it’s born. The natural instincts of a baby whale combined with scent help it to know where to nudge its mother when it’s hungry for milk. A mother whale has what are called mammary slits. These are folds of skin that protect the feeding glands or nipples, of a mother whale. A baby whale nudges this area when it is ready to drink milk.

Here’s how whales drink milk underwater: Instead of sucking the milk out of its mother’s feeding glands, the mother injects the milk into her baby’s mouth. She is able to accomplish this by squeezing special muscles around her feeding glands.

Other mammal babies like kittens and puppies nurse by drawing the milk out through their mother’s nipples. A mother whale does the opposite. She pushes the milk into her baby’s mouth instead of the baby drawing the milk out. This pushing action done by female whales is what makes it possible for a baby whale to take nourishment underwater.

A Humpback Whale with her calf in the Pacific Ocean. A humpback whale baby is weaned at around seven months when it begins to eat small fish and other sea creatures.

©Imagine Earth Photography/

How Does a Baby Whale Avoid Taking in Water as It Nurses?

While nursing underwater, you may wonder how a baby whale can take in its milk without taking in a lot of seawater right along with it. The reason a baby whale is able to nurse without taking in water has to do with its tongue. A baby is able to curl its tongue into a tube-like shape that fits with its mother’s feeding gland, or nipple. This unique fit doesn’t allow anything but milk to go into a baby whale’s mouth.

How Long Do Baby Whales Nurse?

The answer to this question varies among whale species. A toothed whale may nurse her baby anywhere from one to three years.

Alternatively, a bowhead whale continues nursing her baby for six to twelve months. A beluga whale calf nurses from its mother for 20 months to two years.

Some female whales only reproduce every two years while others reproduce every five years. This makes it possible for a mother whale to continue nursing her baby for an extended period of time.

Why is a Mother’s Milk So Important to a Baby Whale?

The milk of a mother whale contains a lot of fat. In fact, some whale milk has 35 to 50 percent fat. This high-fat content is important to the survival of a baby whale. The fat supplies a baby whale with the energy it needs to continually move through the water with its mother.

A mother’s milk helps a baby to develop a thick layer of blubber that will keep it warm in cold ocean waters. In addition, milk is important for bone development, and it gives a baby whale the nutrients it needs to nurture a healthy immune system.

Beluga whale mother with a young calf. A beluga whale baby only starts to eat solid food at around 12 to 18 months old.

©Christopher Meder/

When Are Baby Whales Weaned?

Once again, the answer to this question depends on the species of the whale. A humpback whale baby is weaned at around seven months. It begins to eat small fish and other sea creatures. Alternatively, a beluga whale baby starts to eat solid food at around 12 to 18 months old.

Keep in mind that despite being able to eat small sea creatures, most baby whales continue to nurse as well. The nutrients of its mother’s milk along with solid food add to the strong development of a baby whale.


  • How Long Can Whales Hold Their Breath? Do you wonder how they stay under the water for so long?
  • 10 Incredible Sperm Whale Facts. Here is everything you want to know about a sperm whale.
  • 10 Incredible Killer Whale Facts. The incredible killer whale has so many interesting facts!

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Whales Drink Milk Underwater

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About the Author

Heather Hall

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How many babies does a mother whale have at one time?

A mother whale has one baby at a time. This makes sense because a mother whale is only able to nurse one baby.

What is the gestation period of a whale?

The gestation period of a whale can be 9 months all the way up to 17 months. It all depends on the type of whale you’re talking about.

For instance, a sperm whale is pregnant for around 590 days, which adds up to 19 months. Alternatively, a bowhead whale’s gestation period lasts 13 or 14 months.

What is in a mother whale’s milk?

A mother whale’s milk is filled with nutritious fat and protein. This milk allows a baby whale to gain hundreds of pounds each day to form a thick layer of blubber. This blubber is absolutely necessary for its survival.

A blue whale baby gains about 200 pounds per day by feeding on its mother’s milk.

Where does a mother whale swim when her baby is nursing?

When a baby whale nudges its mother to let her know it is hungry, the mother swims near the surface of the water. She does this so her baby can nurse and take a breath above the surface whenever it needs to. Being a mother whale is a full-time job!

What is a baby whale called?

A baby whale is called a calf. A mother whale is known as a cow and a male whale is a bull.

How big is a newborn baby whale?

As you may have guessed, baby whales of all species are large. Of course, some are larger than others.

It’s not unusual for a newborn blue whale to measure 23 feet with a weight of 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. Bear in mind that an adult blue whale is around 90 feet long and weighs 100,000 pounds or more.

On the other end of the spectrum, a newborn beluga whale weighs from 119 to 140 pounds and is around five feet long. In the world of whales, belugas are considered small.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

90,000 How dolphins feed their young with milk. Amazing and interesting facts about whales and dolphins. Why Dolphins Don't Freeze Underwater

On this day, back in 1982, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted for a complete ban on commercial whaling, which went into effect in 1986.

Today, LifeGuide has prepared the most interesting facts about these wonderful marine mammals.

There are many species of cetaceans, but there are 3 main classifications: ancient whales, baleen (or toothless) and toothed whales, which include dolphins.

1. The largest animal in the world is the Blue Whale. Its length can reach up to 33 meters, and its weight exceeds 120 tons.

2. In one second, the whale inhales and exhales about two thousand liters air.

3. All baleen whales have larger females than males.

4. The heart of a large Blue whale alone weighs about a ton - it is the largest among animals that exist in the world.

5. A whale eats 150 to 230 kilograms of fish a day.

6. Whales, like people, feed their young with milk from the mammary glands, hence the name - mammals.

7. A baby whale gains about 100 kg every day by drinking about 380 liters of milk per day.

8. Outwardly, whales and dolphins look like large fish, but they breathe not with gills, but with lungs.

9. Cetaceans can stay in the water for up to 40 minutes, and sperm whales for up to 1.5 hours.

10. During exhalation, in large whales, the air is pushed out with such force that the loud sound of the fountain can be heard even at a great distance in calm calm weather.

11. Cetaceans have almost no sense of smell. The sense of touch, unlike the sense of smell, is very well developed. However, the most important way for whales to transmit information is through hearing. Toothed whales have especially acute hearing.

12. The whales sing. Yes, yes, the sounds through which they communicate resemble human singing in their melodiousness. The shortest "aria" lasts 6 minutes, the longest - about 30 minutes.

13. Researchers suspect that dolphins may also use their "vocal abilities" not only for echolocation, but also to stun or paralyze prey while hunting.

14. Sperm whales are considered quite dangerous whales. When wounded, they are capable of sinking an entire whaling ship.

15. The teeth of sperm whales, most often, are located only on the lower jaw. Female sperm whales always have fewer teeth than males.

16. Sperm whales grow throughout their lives, usually males are almost twice as large as females.

17. Because whales, like dolphins, need to come up to the surface occasionally to breathe, only half of their brains can sleep at any given time.

18. In terms of body-to-brain size, a dolphin has a much larger brain than a chimpanzee. The brain of an adult representative weighs about 1 kg 700 g, despite the fact that in humans it weighs 1 kg 200 g. In addition, the dolphin has twice as many convolutions. This explains J.

19. According to the latest science, dolphins have a huge vocabulary of up to 14,000 different signal sounds, and they also have self-awareness and empathy to help people.

20. Dolphins recognize each other by the “names” they have at birth. Experiments proved that the same dolphin responded to the recorded sound that signaled the name.

21. Whales and dolphins are able to play with each other.

22. Dolphins, as a rule, do not live alone. They have a complex social structure, and a wide range of emotions, including a sense of humor.

23. Sharks, no matter how predatory they are, try to avoid the company of dolphins.

24. The only known albino humpback whale on the planet was seen near Australia.

25. Dolphins by simple communication and games help children with cerebral palsy and autism to recover. Dolphins perfectly understand the condition of autistic patients, and they manage to reach out to their consciousness. This method of treatment is called dolphin therapy.

26. Dolphins sometimes have mass suicides. This is justified by the fact that dolphins feel the earth's magnetic field well, and sometimes their "sensor" fails and they go astray and are washed ashore.

27. There are fighting dolphins. They are used for military purposes and are trained to detect underwater mines, rescue sailors after the destruction of their ship, and even, according to unconfirmed reports, destroy submarines using the "kamikaze" method.

28. Dolphin scientists have noticed a fascinating fact: male dolphins give their potential mates gifts in the form of "bouquets" of seaweed.

29. And, finally, the main enemy of cetaceans is man!

Hello friends! Since you are reading this article, you are interested in learning something new about dolphins. Today you have a great opportunity to get to know them better. The dolphin is a smart animal, they even treat people, as I wrote in.

Let's see who are dolphins and what they are. Like you, like me, they belong to the class of mammals. About eleven million years ago, the ancestors of dolphins decided to get out of the water, setting off to comprehend the expanses of the earth. Looking around, they were horrified. That is why the dolphins had to return to the expanses of the water surface. These beauties have teeth, being warm-blooded, feed their cubs with milk.


Wikipedia says they prefer the seas and oceans as their habitat. There is practically no such place where these mammals have not settled in our world. From the Red Sea to the northern reservoirs. Further - more: sometimes these animals choose rivers. The bottle-nosed species or the small bottlenose dolphin are more fond of tropical water.

How do they come into being?

Do you know how dolphins are born? The bottlenose dolphin bears a baby for about a year. He is born tail first. The eyes of the cub are immediately open, and the senses are as developed as possible. Moreover, the barely born dolphin already has enough coordination to follow in the footsteps of the mother, who helps to rise to the surface. Then follows the first breath in the life of a baby dolphin. This trusting relationship between a baby dolphin and its mother lasts approximately 3 to 8 years.

A mother dolphin is feeding her baby dolphin.

Breathtaking speed

I don't know about you, but for me the following fact was a real revelation. Dolphins develop amazing speed. As for the bottlenose dolphins, they develop from four to eleven kilometers per hour. The caudal fin, the strongest part of the body, helps in this. If there is such a need, the speed can develop up to 32 kilometers per hour! The body has an ideal shape that allows you to move freely in the water.

Dolphins do not face the concept of resistance. The body of a dolphin has been covered with scars since childhood, because these beauties have a uniquely smooth skin that helps them swim in the water column. Just admire, watch this video, how dolphins accompany the ship:

Dolphin breathing

Another interesting fact from the life of these animals is connected with ... breathing! They breathe air. Despite the absence of gills (not like fish), they have lungs and a unique blowhole located on the upper part of the body. With it, dolphins, like whales, make all kinds of sounds. Bottlenose dolphins can hold their breath for more than seven and a half minutes! But under water they can spend no more than a quarter of an hour - otherwise they are at risk.

Gastronomic preferences

Dolphins prefer to eat different types of fish and squid. It depends on the region where the friend lives. For example, river dolphins are real gourmets. They don't care what they eat. The teeth and jaws are not sufficiently developed to make chewing movements. They swallow the fish whole.

Dolphins and people: who is smarter?

I was also very interested to know: is it a myth that dolphins are more intelligent than humans? The brain of a bottlenose dolphin is the same size as that of a human. However, the elephant is four times more developed! The main role is given to the ratio of the brain and spinal cord. For example, in a dolphin it is forty to one, while in a human it is fifty to one. Cats are five to one, but this is not an indication that they are stupid.

As far as one can tell, the ratios between humans and dolphins are close. But these animals live in a completely different environment. It requires other abilities: hearing, vision and other factors without which it is impossible to survive under water. Dolphins know how to heal people, in addition, read about it here.

Dolphin sizes

Are you wondering if a dolphin is a fish or...? In terms of size, these comrades are much larger than fish. Dolphins can be quite large. For example, the killer whale can be considered the largest of the family. Its length at birth is up to two and a half meters, amazing! Over time, the figure will reach six meters. But speaking of bottlenose dolphins, they are born, hardly a meter in length. It is rare that a bottlenose dolphin will grow, exceeding 2.5 meters.

What sounds do dolphins make?

Also, I wondered why dolphins make all sorts of sounds. I was curious to find the answer, which I am happy to share with you today. As mentioned above, the blowhole helps to "talk" to them. Here and whistle - for communication with each other, and sounds of a pulsating type, indicating an emotional state, like anger or excitement, and clicks to determine echolocation. That is, direction. The animal world never ceases to amaze.

Dolphins know how to have fun!

Do you think it's true that dolphins like to play with each other? From time to time you have to watch how these animals, jumping out of the water, get up something! Incredible acrobats. Swimming back and forth, playing with the waves, they make you hold your breath. All this has a logical explanation. Jumping out, dolphins determine where the school of fish has passed. Games make up a fairly significant part of the life of these individuals.

They like to touch pieces of coral, algae, communicate with their own kind, birds and even turtles. Riding the waves, dolphins have fun! These are their games, friends. By the way, watch this funny video of a dolphin playing with a cat, it always warms my heart after watching it:

Why don't dolphins freeze underwater?

Finally, let's find out why dolphins, being warm-blooded, do not freeze in water. Their body temperature is 36.6 degrees. In the northern seas, animals need to keep warm. Water, which conducts heat up to twenty-five times more efficiently than air, allows you to freeze much faster than in air.

Why do dolphins perform such miracles?! This is due to the large layer of fat under the skin. They can control their circulation and metabolism. This makes it possible to maintain normal body temperature, according to Wikipedia.

And finally, I will have a small request for you, I recently found this video below on the Internet, which tells and shows how dolphins live in dolphinariums, look and write in the comments what do you think about this?

photo:Teruhide Tomori

Dolphins are perfectly adapted to life in sea water. They have a perfectly designed body with a compacted tail. They have 210 pieces in their mouth; swallow food without chewing. Dolphins have lungs but no gills like . Unfortunately, the dolphin cannot breathe automatically, so when the dolphin is sleeping, one part of the brain is awake and the other part is resting with the dolphin. Speaking of the brain, its weight is almost the same as that of humans. They have a four chambered heart. These mammals distinguish between tastes, that is, bitter, salty, sweet.

photo: chatallot

They spend their whole life in sea water, they never encounter fresh water. Therefore, they have to drink salt water, but the kidneys help them cope with this situation. The kidneys of dolphins are much larger than those of terrestrial mammals, because the kidneys constantly have to excrete a lot of salt.

Dolphins feed their babies with milk. The birth process is interesting. The calf appears tail first, after the appearance of the head, the mother pushes the dolphin to the surface for the first breath. Together with his mother, he lives up to 2-3 years.

photo: Domenico Savi

Communication is carried out using gestures, that is, moving the body or tail. In addition to gestures, they communicate with sounds (whistling, clicking).

It has long been known that dolphins are very good-natured and curious. Often they “communicate” with people by swimming up to them.

photo: Carlos Silvestre

Dolphins are very smart and hardworking, they just get in touch with people and are easy to train. If the dolphin is allowed to look in the mirror, then he will understand that it is him. They have a very well developed sense of help, they will always help their own if they need it. When a female gives birth to a baby dolphin, the rest of the flock protects them from predators and helps the female if necessary.

Dolphins are considered one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, as well as the most caring parents.

Female dolphins are caring, giving birth to one cub about once a year, they do not leave him during the period of childhood and adulthood. Dolphins feed, protect their children, teach them to adapt to the world around them, to get food. The first months of marine mammal life are interesting. This is how dolphins raise their young.

Baby Dolphin

The sizes of dolphins at birth are different. Some are born only 50-60 cm long, others can reach a third of their mother. When childbirth begins, the dolphin actively moves, often opening its mouth and arching its body. Seeing these manifestations, girlfriends gather around, providing assistance and, if necessary, protecting.

As soon as the cub is born, it is rushed to the surface of the sea. There, the lungs expand and fill with fresh air. Since the baby, being in the mother's womb, has accumulated a decent fat reserve, in the first hours it is between water and air, resembling a float. The dolphin moves in an upright position, occasionally flipping its front fins.

A baby dolphin remembers its mother by her voice. And this is not surprising, because the dolphin, as soon as she gives birth, whistles loudly, amplifying her usual voice 10 times. It is difficult for a cub to confuse a parent with other adult females.

For the first months, the dolphin does not leave her baby, who, wanting to be fed, makes a shrill cry, similar to a human.

Unlike sushi cubs, dolphins hardly sleep during the first month. Together with him, his mother is also awake, forced to watch and help her child vigilantly. Newly born children do not know how to hold their breath for a long time and they need to rise to the surface every 3 minutes. Only in the second month of life, dolphins plunge into a short sleep. Little by little, adult sleep norms are reached - dolphins sleep an average of about 8 hours.

Cubs gain weight quite quickly - about a quarter of a kilogram per day. Such a good correction provides frequent feeding. Eating dolphins is a natural process, they cannot choke, because the airways are separated from the esophagus.

The baby dolphin does not leave its mother throughout the first year. He circles in a small, two or three meters circle, the center of which is a dolphin. By educating, a parent can punish her restless child.

Somewhere up to a year and a half, the cub feeds on mother's milk, eventually switching to fish. By playing and imitating a close example, dolphins learn to get food and communicate.

Raised exclusively by females. Dolphins, constituting a separate male clan, meet with representatives of the female community only in the baroque period.

Newborn dolphins, unlike the cubs of other mammals, from the first minutes after birth are very adapted to independent life. The baby is born able to swim, see, hear, exchange sound information with the mother and even distinguish her from other dolphins in the flock.

It is also interesting that even before the birth of a dolphin, females gather in a separate group and help the pregnant mother in every possible way. Moreover, during childbirth, females surround the dolphin, thus creating a kind of protective circle.

Dolphins are highly developed creatures, their behavior is in many respects similar to human, and in some cases they even surpass humans. So, for example, in the first weeks of life, a dolphin itself obediently follows its mother. Scientists suggest that dolphins are characterized by some innate behaviors. Such abilities help the cub survive in a hostile environment. Behavioral features of newborn dolphins have been observed, such as a special place near the mother: behind, slightly to the side of the dorsal fin, which provides the newborn with the safest position. If another female from the flock swims nearby, then the baby dolphin arranges itself so as to be protected from both sides by their fins. Another feature of the behavior of newborns is that the dolphin never lags behind the mother and does not swim away from her. Moreover, even if the mother swims very fast, the dolphin still adapts to her rhythm.

However, while females are trying to protect young offspring in every possible way, males are not very friendly towards young dolphins. That is why newborn dolphins lend themselves to strict upbringing. All attempts to swim up to other adult dolphins are immediately stopped by the mother. In dolphinariums, there were even cases when mothers punished their naughty children. Most often, the female pressed the cub to the bottom of the pool with a rostrum (the so-called nose of dolphins) and held it in this position for about a minute, after which it released. It may sound rather cruel, but such behavior is very justified. After all, adult males can not only drive away an annoying baby, but also leave serious damage on the body of a dolphin, up to bites.

As mentioned above, a baby dolphin never swims far from its mother, but there are times when a baby dolphin is still lost. In such situations, the baby swims closer to the surface of the water in the place where he was with his mother for the last time. He swims in circles at high speed and whistles continuously. Thus, the mother easily finds him.

It is also interesting that after the birth of a dolphin, a female from the flock usually joins the mother and continuously helps her in caring for the newborn and protecting it.

Many scientists are still amazed at the intelligence of dolphins. As you can see, these animals not only have the ability to perfectly learn various tricks and acrobatic numbers. Dolphins even have their own language and dialects, a hierarchy in the flock and even social relations.

How do dolphins feed their babies?

Dolphins are mammals that are in the order of toothed whales, breathe with lungs and feed their babies with milk. They live in sea waters and oceans, sometimes they are found in rivers with access to the sea.

A dolphin is considered a warm-blooded animal, its body temperature must constantly be within 36. 6 degrees C. To reach this mark, it must eat about 30 kg of food per day. Dolphins have more than 100 teeth, which do not take any part in chewing food. Animals swallow food whole.

Scientists have not yet really learned the whole process of eating food, how these animals prepare it, and also have not fully considered the question of what dolphins eat. Presumably, these smart animals created their own civilization, which is not yet possible to understand, but much is already known, which is described below.

Who is the relative?

You will never guess who is the closest relative of these animals. These are hippos. There is a hypothesis that in ancient times dolphins ran on land, that is, they were land-dwellers, and only eventually settled in the water, losing their limbs.

If you take mental abilities, then you cannot find relatives closer than a person. Analyze the facts:

  1. Animals are perfectly socialized: they live in groups, hunt together, and help the “old people”. They support the sick and the wounded, push them to the surface to breathe, protect and educate the kids (and not only their own).
  2. Each individual has its own name, the level of identification is excellent. Even the same species living in different water areas has its own "slang".
  3. Capable of learning and "friendship" with other animal species. Relations with a person should be mentioned separately: a psycho-emotional connection is established without problems, in the future, acquaintances are easily identified. Animals can perform complex tricks in dolphinariums, they were used as saboteurs, and the results of dolphin therapy are recognized by official science. The facts of saving people were recorded, there were cases when drowning people were raised to the surface, sharks were driven away from them, pushed ashore!
  4. Sex for pleasure. Yes, it's amazing, but animals are able to have sex not only for procreation. Moreover, boyfriends give bouquets to their chosen ones . ... algae. And persistent gentlemen are able to put especially capricious ladies in “alone”: separate them from the pack, keep them out. And do not communicate until the capricious lady gives in to the "legitimate demands" of the stronger sex. And older individuals go through menopause, and the rest of their lives live without the attention of males.

These examples show the inexplicable relationship between dolphins and the human race. And this is an amazing, but still inexplicable fact.

Species of dolphins

There are more than seventy species of dolphins in nature. They have among themselves specific similarities, such as live birth, nutrition with milk, the presence of respiratory organs, smooth skin and much more. Also, dolphins of different species have their own characteristics. Some animals have an elongated nose, while others, on the contrary, are depressed. They may differ in color and body weight.

Common dolphin

or common dolphin is one of the most gregarious, frisky and fast cetaceans. Its speed reaches 36 km / h, and when it rides a ship wave near the bow of high-speed vessels, then more than 60 km / h. Jumps "candle" up to 5 m, and horizontally up to 9 m. It sinks for 8 minutes, but usually for a period of 10 seconds to 2 minutes.

The Black Sea common dolphin feeds in the upper layer of the sea and does not dive deeper than 60-70 m, but the oceanic form catches fish living at depths of 200-250 m. For accumulation of food, the common dolphin gathers in large herds, sometimes together with other species - pilot whale and short-headed dolphins. It treats a person peacefully, never bites, but does not tolerate captivity.

White flanks live more often in families, which are supposed to be made up of the offspring of several generations of the same female. However, males and lactating females with young, as well as pregnant females, sometimes form separate (apparently temporary) shoals. During the period of sexual activity, mating groups of mature males and females are also observed. Mutual assistance developed.

Live up to 30 years. The sound signals of common dolphins are as diverse as those of bottlenose dolphins: quacking, howling, squeaking, croaking, cat cry, but whistling prevails. counted up to 19various signals. This species has unusually strong signals, the meaning of which has not been established, called "shot" (duration 1 s) and "roar" (duration 3 s) turned out to be with very high sound pressure (from 30 to 160 bar) and a frequency of 21 kHz.

Bottlenose dolphin

lives settled or roams in small flocks. The tendency of the bottlenose dolphin to the coastal zone is explained by the near-bottom nature of food. It dives for food in the Black Sea to a depth of 90 m, in the Mediterranean - up to 150 m. There is evidence that in the Gulf of Guinea it dives to 400-500 m. the bottlenose dolphin moves unevenly, in jerks, with frequent sharp turns. Her respiratory pauses last from a few seconds to 6-7 minutes, up to a maximum of a quarter of an hour. Most active during the day.

Bottlenose dolphins in captivity breathe 1-4 times per minute, their heart beats 80-140 (average 100) times per minute. The bottlenose dolphin can reach speeds of up to 40 km/h and jump up to 5 m. To communicate with each other, bottlenose dolphins emit communication signals with a frequency of 7 to 20 kHz: whistling, barking (chasing prey), meowing (feeding), clapping (intimidating their relatives), etc. When searching for prey and orienting themselves under water, they emit echolocation clicks resembling creaking rusty door hinges, frequency 20-170 kHz. American scientists recorded 17 communication signals in adult bottlenose dolphins, and only 6 communication signals in cubs. Obviously, the system of signals becomes more complex with age and individual experience of the animal. Of this number, 5 signals were common for bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, and common dolphins.

Bottlenose dolphins, like all cetaceans, sleep near the surface of the water, usually at night, and during the day only after feeding, periodically opening their eyelids for 1-2 seconds and closing them for 15-30 seconds. A weak blow of the hanging tail from time to time exposes the sleeping animal from the water for the next respiratory act. In sleeping dolphins, one hemisphere alternately sleeps while the other is awake.

Birth and childhood of dolphins

These can be large clouds of bubbles, streams of bubbles or individual bubbles. Some of them act as a kind of communicative signals.

Within a pack, dolphins form very close bonds. Scientists have noticed that dolphins care for sick, wounded and elderly relatives, and a female dolphin can help another female with difficult childbirth. At this time, nearby dolphins, protecting the female in childbirth, swim around her for protection.

Another proof of the high intelligence of dolphins is the fact that adults sometimes teach their cubs to use special hunting tools. For example, they “dress” sea sponges on their muzzles in order to avoid injury when hunting for fish that can hide in bottom sediments of sand and sharp pebbles.

The oldest captive dolphin was named Nellie. She lived in the marine mammal park "Marineland" (Florida) and died when she was 61 years old.

When dolphins hunt, they use an interesting tactic to trap fish. They begin to circle around the school of fish, close the ring, forcing the fish to huddle into a tight ball. Then, one by one, the dolphins snatch the fish from the center of the school, preventing it from leaving.

Dolphin therapy

The history of friendly relations between humans and dolphins goes back thousands of years. Moreover, these relationships originated even before scientists began to call these marine inhabitants dolphins. Over the centuries, scientists have established that these cetaceans, like humans, have developed verbal abilities for communication. When sick children, autistics, “communicate” with dolphins for a long time, this has a positive effect on sick children. After such “communication”, sick children begin to smile and laugh for the first time, which was confirmed by the British back in the 70s of the last century. On this basis, dolphins began to be used in the treatment of not only mental and neurological ailments of a person, but also physical ones. If you spend enough time with dolphins in the pool, swimming next to them, you can get rid of stress, headaches, neuralgia, and rheumatism.

Sex organs

Male dolphins have two separate openings for the penis and anus. They are separated by a skin isthmus. The urogenital opening is closer to the abdomen. Penis cone-shaped fibroelastic type; lack of os_penis.

Female dolphins have one large elongated opening with an anus at the end. At the other end, inside the large hole, are two smaller holes; these are mammary glands with nipples, with which the mother feeds her cubs, the urethra is located at the top of the genital opening. In females, the anal-urogenital fissure is occupied by the external genital organs. The length of the vagina is up to 20 cm. The uterus is bicornuate, but has one neck. The slit-like opening of the vagina is located in the lower part of the external genital opening. The external genital organs of animals of both sexes seem to be adapted for rapid copulation.

Related materials

Learn » Dolphin and nature » Dolphin genera. Unique photographs Dolphin births. Unique photos

⚙ Articles on dolphin biology
Anatomy of dolphins • Sense organs of dolphins • What dolphins see and hear • Reproduction of dolphins • Micromorphology of the nervous apparatus of the tongue and larynx of the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin • Adaptation to the aquatic environment in dolphins • How fast dolphins swim • Diseases and treatment of dolphins • Behavioral characteristics of cetaceans

Dolphins are one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. Living in the waters of the oceans, they remain mammals, that is, they have the characteristic features of the class: they feed their cubs with milk, breathe with lungs and have a four-chambered heart. Dolphin mothers feed their cubs with fat milk for a long time. Baby dolphins are fed by squirting milk into their mouths. This distinguishes marine life from their land "brothers", who suck milk from the mother's breast. Small dolphins cannot suck milk because they do not have lips.

Feeding baby dolphins is notoriously difficult because it takes place in the water. Among scientists, there are still disputes regarding the reflexes inherent in the nature of the mother dolphin. Probably, the baby dolphin should notify the mother that she wants to eat. As such an "alert", he hits his nose on the mother dolphin's stomach, after which she injects a milk stream into the baby's mouth. By the way, the nipples are located in females on the belly in specially designated pockets or folds. In the first days of a dolphin's life, the female feeds her cub quite often, but in small portions. Scientists have recorded cases when, when the mother died, the cubs were fed by other females.

How are they born?

Do you know how dolphins are born? The bottlenose dolphin bears a baby for about a year.

Learn more