Spin Me a Tail

Feb 28, 2015 by Steve Franklin

There are two main dolphin species around Rocky Point; Spinner Dolphins and Bottlenose Dolphins. The best way to tell them apart is color and size. The Bottlenose Dolphins are primarily one color throughout which is a navy grey. They are also larger than the Spinner, 10 feet verse 7 feet in length.

Spinners have three colors on their body. The top third along the dorsal fin is a dark grey to black. The middle third is a medium grey and the bottom third underbelly is a whitish lighter color.

They grow to seven feet long and 20 years of age. They are sexually mature at 7 years old. The females will have a calf every three years after sexual maturity kicks in and will nurse their calf for 2 years. The gestation period is 10 months.

Spinner Dolphins are known to gather and swim with hundreds of other dolphins together to hunt and play. There will be times where you will see over 1,000 dolphins swimming and spinning together in the waters in front of Puerto Peñasco. Spinner Dolphins can jump and leap out of the water up to 8 feet high and they love to swim in front of the bows of passing ships and jet skis.

The Spinners got their name because of their uncanny ability to spin around while they are leaping out of the water. In order for them to pull off this feat they need to be swimming at high speeds underwater and start their spin while under the water. They are the most acrobatic sea mammal in the ocean. They are also known as the “long nosed dolphin”, as they have the longest noses of any dolphin for their size.

The Spinner Dolphin species lives exclusively in the tropic waters of the world. They span worldwide but only up to 35 degrees to the north and south of equator. This means they do not typically visit the shorelines of California north of the Los Angeles area.

Believe it or not Spinner Dolphins feed mostly at night. They feed on mostly on bait fish and squid and will follow a bait ball of food for miles until they devour nearly the entire sea going festivity. When Spinners are feeding you will also encounter whales and large flocks of birds all after the same sea life morsels. The three groups go hand in hand in the ocean waters. So, one way to spot them while out sightseeing is to follow the birds which lead you to the beautiful and marvelous sea mammals.

Like most of the sea mammals of the sea the Spinner Dolphins biggest predator is man. Man either kills the dolphins by choice to rid them of competition from their fishing business or by accident from the dolphins getting trapped in the netting of fisherman. Either way the dolphins suffer huge losses at the hands of mankind (or should I say man-hate). Killer whales and sharks are the other predator that hunts them.

Just like the humpback whales that I wrote about in January, I encourage you to watch the Spinner Dolphins in action around the waters of Rocky Point. They are out in front of you every day of the week and all year long. If you don’t see them it only means that you are not looking for them. There isn’t any other way for me to ‘Spin’ this story, other than to say; Respect the ocean’s creatures, enjoy the all of the wildlife the ocean brings to you and have fun observing the seas that are full of life as long as we obey the rules of nature.

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