Who doesn’t love dolphins? But being able to encounter and observe dolphins in the wild is extra special, and has become one of the most popular of all the various tours we offer.
Several schools of wild dolphins live and play in the clear blue waters surrounding Key West. These magical creatures cherish the natural habitat found in these open waters where they can do what they enjoy most – play. Because of this, hundreds of these wild dolphins have become common in the Key West area and there are several locations with large sandy bottoms, approximately 10 – 15 feet deep that we refer to as “dolphin playgrounds”. The dolphins found there are extremely happy, especially when compared to the dolphins that are captured and placed in a contained, restricted area solely for the sake of entertainment & profit.
The species of dolphin you will see in the coastal waters around Key West is the common bottlenose dolphin with which most of us are familiar. The popular TV series featuring “Flipper” is a perfect example, as are most of the dolphins found in marine parks and public aquariums. Bottlenose dolphins have become the most popular among marine mammals because they are highly intelligent and extremely sociable. They are generally found moving about in groups of at least two or more and are frequently spotted in larger groups (“pods”) numbering from 10 to 30 dolphins.
Although the Key West dolphins are curious and friendly, we must keep in mind they are wild mammals and they’re protected by strict federal regulations. All our tour operators are encouraged to participate in the “Dolphin Smart” program, which ensures responsible human interaction with these wonderful creatures.
We make sure we don’t disrupt them while they’re feeding, mating, nursing their babies, etc. It is also forbidden to attempt to swim with, pursue, touch, or elicit a reaction from the animals, even if they may sometimes swim close by. If dolphins come towards you and choose to interact, that is allowed as long as you abide by the rules.
More Interesting, Fascinating Facts about Key West Dolphins…
- Similar to humans, Key West dolphins are warm-blooded mammals that feel complex emotions and have strong family ties.
- Dolphins communicate mainly by means of sounds and occasionally they hit the water with a flipper or tailfin, or jump high out of the water, coming down with a large splash. Body posturing also has a role in their communication.
- Dolphins have built-in sonar; they produce high pitched clicks and when these clicks hit an object, some of the sound echoes back and they can determine the size, distance, and other information about the object.
- The life expectancy of these dolphins is about 25 years; although it is estimated some may live as long as 50 years.
- Although these dolphins live in the ocean, ocean water is too salty for them to drink, so they get most of their water from the food they eat (fish and squid).
- Most animals have some capacity for emotions, but the dolphin’s ability to process emotional information is particularly expanded, and by some estimates, approaching that of humans.