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As it’s Sea Week we’re going to talk about dolphins, just cos they are kind of cool.
There are 9 species of dolphins in New Zealand, including the maki/orca or killer whale and the upokohue/pilot whale. Confusing eh.
Orcas are classed as dolphins due to their teeth, rounded head and a beak, streamlined bodies and having a melon, not of the fruity kind. A melon is a fatty deposit in their head they emit sounds off which bounce off objects (echolocation), helping them find their way.
Dolphins are super important in the marine ecosystem – they are predators eating mainly fish and squid, and they also can get eaten by others, such as sharks. Without them the food chain would be severely disrupted impacting the ocean’s biodiversity. By monitoring and observing dolphins we can tell when something is going wrong in the ocean.
Dolphins, like us, are super sensitive to noise. Noise travels underwater, so the sound of boat engines for dolphins might be like screaming at your mate across a motorway instead of a pleasant chat. What to do about that?
Well, if you’re out boating, keep your distance, operate your boat slowly and quietly at ‘no wake’ speed (within 300m) and don’t chase them.
For more info on dolphins and what you can do to help check out: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/marine-mammals/dolphins/