Category Archives: about dolphins

Vaquita day 2014!

I hope to have something in Denver for next years Viva Vaquita day. But, you can go here to find out about what is going on this Saturday (July 12th) in California and other places.



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Fun facts about Orcas!

Today I’ll be telling you about my favorite dolphin. The Killer whale (Orcinus orca), also referred to as the Orca whale or Orca, and less commonly as the Blackfish, is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family.

(Source Liz Climo on Tumblr)

1. Killer whales, also called Orcas, are the largest of the dolphins. They are divided into 4 ‘types’ labeled A, B, C and D – each set has its own identifying features.


2. To tell a male and female Orca apart just look at their dorsal fins. Male dorsal fins are larger than a females and the females have a smaller curved dorsal fin.


3. Killer whales are found in all the oceans of the world.

orca map
(The blue areas are where they are found, see they are all over!)

4. Killer whales have 40 to 50 teeth that are up to four inches long.

5. The average life span of a killer whale in the wild is 50 to 80 years old.

6. Orcas are sometimes called the ‘wolves of the sea’ because, like wolves, they hunt in packs.

orca pod

7. Killer whales can grow to be 23 to 32 feet long, almost as long as a bus.

8. Orcas are one of the fastest creatures in the sea, traveling up to 30 miles per hour.


9. A Killer whales’ brain is five times larger than a humans. They are very social, intelligent, and curious. Killer whale brains that have been studied with microscopes have proven to be as structured and developed as the human brain.

orca brain

10. Their use of clicks, whistles and pulsed calls help them communicate with their pods and locate food.

11.The only recorded instances of a Killer whale attacking a human being have been by Orcas held in captivity. No Killer whale that lives in the wild has ever attacked a human being.

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Cetacean lovers in Boulder

I’m taking a break for a bit from the conference, then going back. When you are a cetacean lover it is always nice to meet other cetacean lovers. I have gotten to meet lots of neat people like singers, Cake bosses, and even some mammals that are not people, like Winter.

But, today I got to meet Mr. Fabien Cousteau at the WAVES symposium. See?!

He signed my Jacques Cousteau whale book. I am meeting all kinds of people at the conference and I have some ideas about things I can do to help the ocean. I am thinking that I can get people in my city to get better at recycling plastic bags. I gave my card to one of the NetZero people at the conference and I’m going to talk to the Ocean Coalition later today about it. I also want to talk to the dive people about my lung disease and diving. I know that people with asthma can dive because Mrs. Maris II who started Save the Whales has asthma and she dives. (I have been hospital free for over 2 years now, but I occassionally end up in triage at National Jewish…)

Oh, one quick thing that was also cool was that a Rep. from Monterey Bay in California was here today and he proclaimed Boulder an honorary inland coastal CA community, how cool is that? I am going to tell Mrs. Maris I (from STW) about that. I also need to tell Sabrina from Riverwatch (here we are doing a river sample at the Platte river) and Casey from Cherry Creek watershed about what I learned today.

Oh, and some lady took a picture of my shirt, she thought it was cool. We took my art and transferred it to a shirt with ‘Keep Calm and Save’ on it.

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Two cetaceans – alike and different

How can two animals from the same family be alike and different at the same time? Just because they happen to be whales or dolphins doesn’t mean that they eat the same things or act the same way. Blue whales are the biggest mammal and Killer whales are very smart, but there are ways that these two creatures are similar and yet there are ways that they are completely different.

Both Blue and Killer whales are part of the cetacean family, this includes whales and dolphins. They both travel in pods with their families. They are both on the endangered species list: the Killer whale for depletion of their prey, noise disturbance and ship collisions and  captivity; the Blue whale for vessel strikes and fishery interactions. Blue whales travel from warm waters to the cold of the Arctic to feed and travel back to the warm waters to give birth. Killer whales follow the same migration routes as Blue whales, they also feed in the Arctic and have their young in warmer waters of the South.


There are some things about these two species that are very different. Blue whales belong to the baleen group of whales and Killer whales belong to the toothed dolphin group. Blue whales communicate with songs and moans, the sound comes out of their throat with a sound so loud it can be heard for hundreds of miles, Killer whales talk to each other with clicks and whistles. This difference in communication is due to the fact the Killer whales have teeth, they use their teeth and melon to make clicks and whistles, whereas Blue whales use their throat and heads to produce sounds. Killer whales eat fish, penguins, other whales and crustaceans and are a predator, in fact Blue whale calves can be their prey. Blue whales eat krill, as many as 40 million a day, but sometimes they also swallow things that are in their path like squid, fish or crustaceans.

The other huge difference between the two creatures is their size, Blue whales come in around 98 feet long and Killer whales range from 18-32 feet in length.

Want to compare the length of a Blue whale to other things? Go here.

It’s good to know that although Blue whales and Killer whales are both in the same family and that they travel in the same migration patterns, they are also very different species that each have their own unique characteristics.


Anyone whale watching would instantly recognize the Killer whale with it’s distinctive markings of black and white and if you saw a Blue whale you would recognize it by its size, but knowing that these whales are from different parts of the cetacean family can be interesting. Now the next time someone mentions a Killer whale, you can tell them that they aren’t really whales at all, but dolphins in the larger family of cetaceans. You can also tell them that Blue whales are the largest mammal in the world and that they are almost 100 feet long.

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Amazon Pink River Dolphin


Did you know there is such a thing as a pink dolphin? The Amazon river dolphin (or botos) is born grey and becomes pinker with age. Why are they pink? Because its skin becomes more translucent allowing the blood to show through. Really, what you are seeing is their blood pumping through their blood vessels. They have a long powerful beak, small eyes and are somewhat slow swimmers. They can reach up to ten feet long and two hundred pounds. Despite this weight and length, they can move quickly in their habitat.

Where do they live? Pink River Dolphins inhabit the waters of the Amazon river in South America, and during flooding will move onto the flooded forests leaving them at risk of stranding. They are however extremely flexible so they can weave through the trees as they search for their prey. They are a completely freshwater species and there are only 5 species of freshwater dolphins.

What do they eat? They feed on crabs, catfish, and small fresh water fish. An added hunting benefit is their excellent eyesight which they use to locate prey in clear water. In murky water they emit a series of clicking noises which they then use as sonar.

Are they endangered? Yes,they have become one of the most endangered species due to human interference. The Amazon River Dolphin is currently threatened by habitat destruction, hydroelectric dam projects, mercury poisoning from gold prospecting, accidental entangling in fishing nets, pollution, and boat traffic. People and dolphins need to share the river, but that is easier said than done.

I think the pink river dolphin is an amazing animal, it is very unique with its translucent skin and the fact that it lives in freshwater is something that very few dolphins can claim. When you see the depth of some of the water they swim in and the way they move through the trees in the water you will be amazed at the wonderful pink river dolphin too.

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