Why Do Dolphins Jump Out of the Water?

A pod of dolphins jumping out of the water is one of the most exciting things to see out in the sea.

Dolphins are curious and playful creatures known for their extraordinary acrobatic feats and ability to jump out of the water.

While most experts aren’t certain why dolphins do this, they have many theories. Regardless of their reason, a dolphin jumping out of the waves is a stunning sight.

How Do Dolphins Jump Out of the Water? 

You’ve probably watched dolphins leaping out of the water in a nature documentary, or you were lucky enough to see one in person and thought, “How do they do that?” Well, dolphins do this by propelling themselves using their tail flukes, which push against the water at high speeds.

This behavior is also known as breaching. Dolphins do this by reaching a required speed, then swimming up to the surface from a distance.

You’ve also probably wondered how high they can leap. If you’ve watched Animal Planet or the National Geographic Channel, you’d probably know they can jump quite high. They can reach more than 25 feet, sometimes while doing twirling leaps, somersaults, and acrobatics.

Why Dolphins Breach 

There are many reasons dolphins jump out of the water. Although we don’t have all the facts, looking at them will help us understand dolphin behavior. According to the top provider of dolphin tours in Johns Pass, these are a few reasons dolphins leap out of the water.

1. For A Better View of Their Surroundings

One probable reason dolphins leap out of the water is to get a bird’s eye view of the ocean, which helps them hunt prey and identify potential dangers.

Spy-hopping is a behavior where dolphins leap out of the water to avoid predators. They vertically peek out over the water, with their eyes just above its surface.

2. To Navigate

A dolphin may also jump out of the water to look at the coastline’s contours, which they use for navigation. This is especially important when searching for pod members. They may jump out of the water to alert other dolphins of their location and prevent them from being separated.

Dolphins are often seen traveling or hunting in a group. Other dolphins may leap into the air to signal lost dolphins of their location, a behavior known as “beach casting.”

3. To Communicate with Other Dolphins 

Dolphins are intelligent aquatic creatures that communicate with each other over long distances through whistles, chirps, and breaching. Researchers believe dolphins flip and leap out of the water to show leadership and dominance. Jumping through the air can help an alpha dolphin communicate with another.

4. For Getting Rid of Parasites 

Dolphins are warm-blooded mammals, and they attract parasites like fish.

External parasites, like remoras, can injure dolphins. Remoras are aquatic creatures with suction cups that attach to large marine animals, and a study suggests that they can attach to dolphins, which could increase their resistance when swimming.

Researchers believe that breaching and falling into the water helps dolphins get rid of these external parasites because these parasites can’t tolerate the air and these sudden changes.

5. For Energy Conservation

Sometimes, dolphins can be seen jumping out of the water after a long hunt or when they can’t reach their food at the surface. Breaking through the water’s surface helps them release stored energy and sink back to rest.

Scientists believe dolphins leap out of the water to save energy and travel long distances at amazing speeds. Air is 784 times less dense than water; jumping into the air allows dolphins to cover more distances than swimming and avoid resistance from currents.

6. To Breathe

While dolphins are mammals, they can’t breathe like other land mammals. They can’t inhale voluntarily like land mammals because they live in both saltwater and freshwater environments.

Dolphins breathe by breaking the water’s surface and lifting their blowhole to breathe. It’s like when humans take deep breaths and come up for air while swimming. Swimming faster and jumping higher helps them breathe more air while maintaining speed.

7. To Cool Off

Dolphins are warm-blooded animals, and their metabolism generates plenty of heat. Their body temperature must remain constant at 96.8 to 98.6 F°, nearly the same for humans. They also breathe less frequently than other land mammals, losing less heat to the environment when exhaling.

Dolphins control their temperature by jumping out of the water, like people splashing cold water on their faces in the summer heat. Their blowholes release heat, allowing calmer waters to circulate into them.

8. For Fun

Dolphins are playful, intelligent mammals that love to jump, and their streamlined bodies allow them to reach heights and fast speeds.

They are also playful creatures who enjoy entertaining people with tricks like flipping, jumping, and balancing. You’ll often see them flipping on the waves, swimming, and jumping by boats.

The Big Idea 

Dolphins are brilliant creatures who use jumping skills to communicate with other dolphins over long distances and spot prey or predators. Jumping allows them to breathe more efficiently, cool off their warm bodies, and conserve energy.

But who’s to say they don’t do it to have a bit of fun? You’ll often see them jumping and swimming beside boats or flipping over the waves.

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