As pet owners people always expects their pet to be unique and different from other pets. They always want them to stand out from the crowd. There are certain animals which if becomes a pet can definitely be a show to watch. It has the shape, the beauty, the intelligence, the play and the tricks that make him exceptional in every possible way. I am sure you might still be guessing who I am talking about. Well, it is none other than the most elegant and playful being of water i.e. the Dolphins. They are not just elegant but even considered as the national aquatic animal of India.
Dolphins belong to the cetacean mammal family who are closely associated to the porpoises and whales. We can find around 40 species of dolphins in 17 different genera. They range from 4feet and 40 kg to almost 30 feet and 10 tonnes. It is a fish that is available everywhere around the world. However, the majority of population is seen near the shallow seas of the continental shelves. They are flesh eating mammals (carnivorous) mostly surviving on fish and squid. When dolphins are in a group or herd they are called as a ‘pod’ or a ‘school’. A male dolphin is called as ‘bull’, whereas a female is a ‘calf’.
The different dolphins as per their taxanomy are – Common dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Spotted dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin, Commerson’s dolphin, Dusky dolphin, Killer whales, Amazon river dolphin. Dolphins have a flat, fusiform body which helps them swim faster. The fin tail known as fluke is used for momentum while the pectoral fins provide direction control and the dorsal fin is the balancing factor while swimming. The head is shaped round as it contains the melon, an organ used for echolocation. In many species an elongated jaw is a common feature. Some species have up to 250 set of teeth.
Dolphins are extremely social animals. They respond to human contact and activity quickly. But there are certain limitations to how we can correctly interact with a dolphin.
- THE WATER TEST: Get inside the water where the dolphins swim. Do not swim close or around them. This makes them know you are not aggressive or menacing. Make sure you do not perform this act alone and have a companion with you to keep an eye on. Dolphins can be unpredictable at times. Especially when you are a stranger and they are unfamiliar to the being. The safest way is to do this with someone who is well trained and has some knowledge about dolphins and their behaviour.
- THE FIRST STEP: Never take the initiative or the first step while petting a dolphin. Unlike other pets dolphins take their own time in building confidence in someone or considering them as a friend. Hence let the dolphin come to you instead of you going to him.
- NOTICE THE TENSION: As said earlier it is always safe to let the dolphin take the first step. It makes them realise that you are not to cause any harm to them. But if you think that the dolphin is not comfortable with your presence do not come in its way. Let it go. Or else it may even turn the dolphin aggressive.
- STRETCH YOUR HAND: The dolphins don’t like unnecessary touching unless they really want it. So do not directly touch the dolphins. Stretch your hand out and let the dolphin come near it. Make sure you stretch your dominant hand so that in case of worse scenario you are ready to reflex back. The dolphins investigate your hand and if comfortable let you touch them.
- THE TOUCH TEST: Once you are sure that the dolphin is comfortable around you go ahead for small, gentle touches. Pat softly on its back. Dolphins are otherwise social animals. They enjoy human company. Be careful that you avoid touching its dorsal fin as it is a sensitive area.
So these were some of the suggestions one must follow if you are going on a wild adventure with the non-captivated dolphins. However, dolphins can only be captivated in Dolphinarium. As the name suggests a dolphinarium is an aquarium for dolphins care specifically. Over here the dolphins are kept in large pools or other water bodies according to their body size. Generally dolphins are not animals that can be kept as pets as they need large space as well as natural environment to carry on with their daily activities. Certain fishes are kept in aquariums where they are displayed in transparent glass tanks. However, dolphins are not tank-fishes. They need space to jump and play which include in their regular activities. There are certain dolphinarium where dolphins are kept in one pool, where they perform in front of the public. Such dolphins are usually trained and safe to touch and play with. The most common breed of dolphins seen here is the bottlenose dolphins as it is easy to teach and train and lives longest in captivity. Other species even include the Orcas.
Apart from the facts about their lifestyle and their habitats the most and relevant reason why one cannot buy a dolphin is that they are extremely expensive living beings. It is sheerly impossible for a common person to buy a dolphin as pet. On the other hand, there are loads of legal obligations one has to face to get a green signal to buy a dolphin. Hence, it is practically impossible for one to have a pet dolphin but one can definitely enjoy its company in their nearby dolphinarium. It is cheap, legal and at the very same time gives you a chance of being near this beautiful creature. So next time you visit a dolphinarium make sure to follow the basic rules and stand out in the crowd.