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Different Types of Horses

To list all the different types of horses in one article is impossible, simply because it’s an extensive task. There are over hundred different types of horse breeds in America, however, let us try and have a bird’s-eye view of them. To simplify our understanding of how many different types of horses and ponies are present on this earth, we have categorized these animals into different groups on the basis of common traits shared between them. Now, it’s also important to remember that there is a stark difference between a breed and a type. A type encompasses several breeds of horses that share similar physical attributes.
Color Type
The first category involves horses that have been grouped together because of their unique coat colors and patterns. Palomino is one such example, wherein the horses are characterized by yellow, golden, or tanned bodies, with white or off-white manes, and tails. Palomino refers to the color of the horse and not the breed, thus palominos come in all kinds of breeds. These horses are considered to be multi-purposed horses favored for not only their beauty, but also for their endurance and maneuverability. One can find these gorgeous horses in rodeos, parades, ranches, etc. Then there’s the Appaloosa type, which feature either dark bodies with speckles, light bodies with dark spots or dark spots on white body. Then, there’s also the Pinto type which are horses with coat patterns with large patches of white and any other color.
Light Horses
These are generally swift and agile horses chosen for riding. They can be used for various sport activities and entertainment purposes. Under these light horses come the Arabian horses (also known as Arab). These horses are one of the oldest horse breeds and are known for their beauty and elegance. They are highly treasured for their great speed, endurance, stamina, and strength. Then, there’s the thoroughbred horse breed, which is mainly used for horse racing. Then, we have the Morgan breed, which is valued for its gentleness, soundness, and intelligence. These wonderful driving horses are also great at dressage, jumping, endurance, reining, and cutting competitions. The American Quarter horse and Standardbred breeds also come under this type of light horses, wherein the former is found in cattle ranches carrying out sport activities like roping, reigning, etc., while the latter are used as harness racers.
Draft Horses
This type entails large horses specifically bred for working on farms. They are characterized by strong, tall, muscular bodies with extremely gentle personalities. They are used for pulling heavy loads on the farm. Under this type we have breeds like the Belgian horse breed, which is still used on farms due to its strength. However, they are popularly used for trail riding, gaming, and as show horses. Another breed under this type is the Clydesdale breed, which are large horses that possess feathery tufts of hair on their legs, just above the hooves.
Gaited Horses
Although these horses appear in the show ring, and are used mainly for trail riding, they were traditionally treasured and valued for the comfortable ride they gave their owners. These horses are known for their easy-to-ride, smooth, and comfortable gait. Under this type, comes the most popular riding horse called American Saddlebred, whose smooth style of walking and running has provided comfortable rides to its riders. These horses are not only a pleasure to trail ride, but are also capable of cutting well, jumping, and are also excellent competitors in dressage. The Campolina breed also comes under this type, which are used for leisure riding and driving, however, they are gaining popularity as suitable candidates for dressage. Some other breeds under this type are the Missouri Fox Trotter, Tennessee Walking horse, Mangalarga Marchador, Peruvian Paso, Walkaloosa, etc.
Ponies
These are small horses with specific bone structure, musculature, and temperament. As compared to the other types of horses, ponies exhibit thicker coat, mane, and tails. Moreover, in terms of appearance, they have shorter heads, shorter legs, wider barrels, and thicker necks. Since they bear semblance to foals, oft people mistake ponies for young horses or foals. Their ability to travel in narrow mine shafts cause them to be used exclusively in coal mines. These intelligent animals can oft become stubborn, which is why they require proper training. The different breeds under this type are Shetland pony, Welsh pony, Connemara pony, Chincoteague pony, Dartmoor pony, Fell pony, etc.
Besides these 5 types, there are several other types of horses such as Windsor Greys, Warmbloods, Iberian horses, Baroque horses, etc. Who knew the world of horses could be so diverse!

Mustang Horse Names

The mustang is a breed of hardy, free-roaming horses that are believed to have descended from the horses brought by the Spanish conquistadors. It is a popular sports mascot that stands for the qualities of hardiness, grace, speed, and independence.

Prehistoric horses that lived in North America died out during the last ice age around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, he brought with him horse breeds of Andalusian, Arabian, and Barb ancestry. Thus, began the reintroduction of horses to North America. The newly introduced Spanish horses were known for many qualities; hardiness being one of them. In fact, it was their hardiness that helped the breed survive in the wild and earn itself the title of a breed that was made to survive.

Wild horses became a common sight in both North and South America. These were the horses that were left, strayed, or stolen, which eventually became wild or feral horses. When the Native Americans learned horse riding, they started catching them. An individual Native American could own a hundred horses and the tribe could own over a thousand of these. As the nomadic tribes moved from place to place, they would lose some horses. Thus, these horses were scattered across America and multiplied freely.

Names for Mustang Horses

Names for Male Horses
» Amigo
» Allstar
» Black-Jack
» Blanca
» Chico
» Cigarette
» Cloud
» Condo
» Diego
» Flame
» Fru-Fru
» Glue-Boy
» Happy Trails
» Hidalgo
» Hombre
» Incognito
» Loco
» Mario
» Merryleg
» Monarch
» Mosaic Appaloosa
» Motorcycle Mustang
» Nacho
» Native Jewel Pony
» Pablo
» Paco
» Pancho
» Pepe Peso
» Pollo
» Power
» Prairie
» Salvador
» Si
» Sky of Enchantment
» Sounds of Thunder
» Teacher
» Uno
» Zack Attack
» Zeus
» Zippity Do Dah

Names for Female Horses
» Apple-oosa
» Becky
» Bedazzled
» Bela
» Bonita
» Buttermilk
» Carmen
» Catherine
» Christina
» Christmas Parade
» Clover
» Copper Enchantment
» Cyril
» Dancer
» Eliza
» Eloise
» Epona
» Esmerelda
» Evita
» Gabriella
» Ginger
» Golden Feather Pony
» Harriet
» Hazel
» Jewel
» Lucy
» Moondance
» My Dazzlin Desire
» My Dazzlin Destiny
» Nova
» Opal
» Paloma
» Proudbottom
» Ramona
» Renewal of Life
» Rosa
» Rosie the Apparoosa
» Ruby
» Silver Lining
» Snowflake
» Stardust
» Sunka Wakan
» The Old Gray Mare
» Viva Las Vegas
» Whinney
» Whirlwind

Interesting Facts

Mustangs are known to have many colors, including coyote duns, smokies, blues, blue roans, shining blacks, rusty browns, red roan, toasted sorrels, splotched appaloosas, cream-maned palominos, snip-nosed pintos, flea-bitten grays, black-skinned whites, etc.

  • The word mustang means wild and untamed in Spanish.
  • The mustang breed has roamed freely since over 300 years. This has made it into a very thrifty, independent, and hardy creatures.
  • Mustangs were favorites of the Native Americans and cowboys due to their good cow sense that made them cattle working companion.
  • There were about 2 million mustangs at the beginning of 20th century that came down to less than 30,000 by the end of the century.
  • The law for The Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 was introduced to protect mustangs.

This was some information related to the beautiful and sturdy mustang breed. With a lineage of great horses running in their blood, the mustang today is mostly used for stock work, riding, and endurance riding.

The Electric Kind of Horse Fencing You Must’ve Never Heard Of

Horses exhibit personality traits that are very much similar to human beings. They do not like to be trapped in enclosed areas and they love to roam freely, though within the yard. They hate walls and other opaque surfaces which prevent them from seeing the outside world. However, if they are supplied with adequate food and water, they are unlikely to break the barrier and go out. However, certain circumstances may force a horse to break the barrier and set itself free. Hence, it is necessary to install a fence that can successfully ‘contain’ the horse inside.

Electric Fence for Horses

Invisible fencing does not work well with horses as they are likely to get tangled in the wires that are barely visible. Wooden or concrete barriers are dangerous, because the horse might try and break them if it is determined to go out. Horses act on instincts when they panic and get themselves seriously injured.

Electric fences have been criticized for being painful to animals. Yet, one can’t deny the fact that they are very much effective in keeping animals, like horses and dogs, inside the yard, where they are safe.

Components
Modern fences come in broader braids and colored ribbons in order to provide better visibility. They have three components …

  • Electric Fence Wire: It carries the electric charge across the fence. It is the ‘active’ or hot part, and is located above the ground.
  • Energizer: Energizer generates the electric charge and pushes it through the fence. This power is delivered in a series of pulses, which are transmitted per second to comply with the safety standards. Continuous pulses are not generated so as to give the horse some time to free itself from the fence.
  • Ground System: It comprises metal rods that are dug inside the ground. It is the ‘inactive’ part in the assembly, which only becomes active when the circuit is completed; or in other words, whenever the animal touches the fence.

Working Mechanism
The working principle of this fence is fairly simple; the circuit completes only when the horse comes in contact with the fence and ground. The energizer and ground system have a gap between them, which prevents the circuit from completing. The horse touches the fence and the circuit is completed, allowing the charge to pass. This charge flows through the body of the horse, resulting in a mild shock. Though the shock is not very painful, it is enough to startle the animal and prevent it from coming anywhere near the fence in future.

The cost incurred on installing an electric fence will depend on the perimeter of your yard. On an average, it will cost you anywhere between 48 to 75 cents per foot. While critics call for a ban on this system citing the pain it causes to the animal, horse-keepers do vouch for the safety and effectiveness of this fencing.

A Quick Guide to the Dolphin Habitat and Where They Live

These studies have helped humans gauge their intelligence levels to a large extent, although there is much more to be discovered and explored about them. The dolphin’s streamlined body helps it to swim fast in the water and propel its body at great speed. So have you often wondered about the dolphin habitat and which areas they generally occur in?
Home of the Dolphins
Dolphins are found all over the world; generally in shallow seawater of the continental shelves. You can witness dolphins in cold waters as well as the warm tropical waters. Of course, certain species of dolphins show preference to a particular temperature and region.
Bottlenose Dolphin
The Bottlenose dolphin is probably the most common species of known dolphins. These prefer to live in warmer waters. Bottlenose species can be found in all oceans except the Arctic and Antarctic. In addition to these oceans, they are also found in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. This species of dolphins is the most abundant one in the United States.
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin
These belong to the Delphinidae family and are usually found in large groups. The Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, as the name suggests, are found in abundance in the Atlantic Ocean. Well accustomed to warm temperate waters, they are rarely found in the deep waters of the oceans. Continental or coastal shelf waters are preferred by this type of dolphin. Most often, these dolphins are found in the Gulf Stream, north of the Atlantic Ocean.
Spinner Dolphins
These dolphins are known for their acts of spinning and leaping. Tropical and subtropical oceans are the main habitat of the Spinner Dolphins. In search of prey, these dolphins are mostly found in deep ocean waters. A coastal distribution is observed in the Hawaiian region, where these mammals rest during the day and hunt for prey during the night. They are frequently spotted in Hawaii along with the Bottlenose Dolphins.
Change in Habitat
Dolphins that love to feed on planktons are often attracted to the coastal areas. However, the occurrence of dolphins is also found in rivers besides oceans. The contamination of water has proven to be a threat to all marine life. Dolphins are also facing threat due to metal objects, plastic material, and various pollutants found in the water.
Dwindling Numbers
Dolphins do not face many threats for their survival except for the major ones created by man. In some countries, dolphin meat is a delicacy. Currently, with the contamination of water, and being hunted for their meat, their survival is a major issue worldwide. Many organizations are therefore dedicated to help with the survival of our favorite aquatic animal, the dolphin.

The Heart-wrenching Truth About Why Pink Dolphins are Endangered

Did You Know?
While ocean dolphins possess a dorsal fin, pink dolphins have humps on their backs instead of dorsal fins.

Amazon River Dolphins

Pink dolphins, also popularly known as Boto, Bouto or Amazon river dolphin are a type of dolphin species living in the Amazon rainforest with bodies well adapted to the Amazon river. They are also commonly found in the streams and main rivers of the Orinoco river systems; the upper Madeira river in South America and Pearl river of Hong Kong.
Some may mistake these dolphins for albino dolphins, however, these belong to the genus Inia, with Inia geoffrensis, as their scientific name, and are not same as the dolphins seen in the oceans. Instead, these are the most popular of the five dolphin species, that are river inhabitants and are distantly related to ocean dolphins (belong to different families).
Blushing Dolphins!
blushing dolphins

When pink dolphins get excited, they turn all pink, just as if they were blushing!
Most of the pink dolphins are pink, however, their color may vary from pink, murky-brown, creamy-white to blue-gray and gray. Born as gray-colored, these develop a pinkish tinge as they enter adulthood. Some scientists believe that the pink coloration can be credited to the dolphin’s diet comprising crabs and shellfish, which contain a red pigment in their muscle tissues. The presence of large number of blood capillaries, near the surface of the dolphin’s skin can also be another reason.

Why are Pink River Dolphins Endangered?

Pink dolphins are the last of the five other river dolphin species, as the others are almost practically extinct. As recorded by Brazilian scientists, their numbers have declined greatly since 2000. Researchers believe that these species are declining at the rate of 10% every year. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international organization based in Gland, Switzerland has listed them under the endangered species category.
Humans, the Greatest Enemy
humans the greatest enemy
Pink dolphins do not have any natural enemy. They are known to have a brain capacity 40% larger than humans; have lived in harmony with the Amazon people for centuries and are the friendliest of the dolphin species. There are several stories of dolphins helping drowning people and pushing them to the shore. However, these wonderful creatures do not get this friendly gesture in return. Urban and economic development, water pollution, etc. have made this dolphin’s survival difficult.
River Traffic
Pink dolphins are creatures of curiosity and approach vessels in the rivers. Oft they are hit by the vessel’s propellers and rendered hurt. The overload of boats in the rivers increases the risk of dolphins being hit. The noise pollution caused by the boats and vessels, has resulted in the production of a disorienting phenomenon in the dolphin’s navigation system, which has resulted in the death of many.
Destruction of the Tropical Rainforest
Humans are destroying the pink dolphin’s natural habitat, which is the South American tropical rainforest. This loss of habitat and destruction of the rainforest ecosystem, due to commercial agriculture, oil extraction, etc. is gradually forcing pink dolphins towards extinction.
Dam Construction
The government’s plan to build several hydro-electric dams in the Amazon region has added to the fears of pink dolphin’s becoming extinct. Hydro-electric dams are dangerous because their construction results in the isolation or divide of the dolphin groups. It will lead to two sets of dolphin populations on either side of the dam, thereby resulting in lower breeding rate.
Entangled in Fish Nets
A large number of dolphins get caught in fishing nets and lose their lives. Getting accidentally entangled in fishing nets, is the most common reason for dolphin mortality. Gill nets used by commercial fishermen, are the ones that are highly dangerous for the lives of the dolphins. Fishermen commonly view dolphins as competitors to their fish and moreover a nuisance. According to the fishermen, these dolphins get stuck in their nets and eat all their fish, which is why they kill them.
Dolphin Flesh as Fish Bait
dolphin as fish bait
The indiscriminate capture of dolphins for fish bait, has also ignited the extinction of this species. Dr. Vera da Silva, a biologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, said that the adoption of fishing techniques, from Colombia has resulted in this tragedy. She also adds that the number of dolphins’ mutilated bodies, with missing fins is on the rise (only the fins are used as fish bait). People are so barbaric that they even puncture their bodies for sadistic pleasure.
Dolphinarium Trade
Thailand is known to catch pink dolphins and place them in dolphin lagoons or dolphinariums. They also train these dolphins to perform at shows, to entertain people, thereby minting lots of money off these creatures. In captivity more than 50% dolphins are seen to die within 3 months of time and those that survive have a very low lifespan as compared to those in the wild. Catching dolphins from the wild for dolphinariums is also another reason for the depleting numbers of pink dolphins.
Hunted to Reduce Competition
Pink dolphins are also hunted down by fishermen to reduce the number of fish predators. This means if there aren’t many river fish-consuming creatures like river dolphins, higher will be the river fish numbers available in the rivers, for them to catch and sell. So fishermen try to get rid of the dolphins to reduce the natural predators of river fish. How brutal!
Drought
Natural disasters like drought are also seen to hit pink dolphin numbers in the Amazon river. In the year 2010, one of the severest forms of drought hit the Amazon rainforest. Impact on pink dolphins (numbers reduced by half) and other wildlife was also severe, due to the low water levels. This drought is nothing but the result of rising global temperatures. The world’s ecosystem has been affected on the whole, which is now turning into repercussions like drought.
Various volunteer programs and societies like the International Society for the Preservation of the Tropical Rainforest (ISPTR) have dedicated themselves to the novel cause of saving these pink, friendly dolphins. However, it is the responsibility of each one of us to live and let live! We cannot continue living such selfish lives. We must be drawn by a concern for other inhabitants of this planet as well.

The Real Causes of Extinction of the Yangtze River Dolphin (Baiji)

Little-known Fact
The last known Yangtze River dolphin, Qiqi died in 2002, while the last confirmed sighting of this species in the wild was in 2004.
In 2006, the Yangtze River dolphin, or baiji, was declared functionally extinct when an intensive survey involving a team of thirty scientists failed to yield any results. They looked for the species all over its natural habitat, right from the Three Gorges Dam to the Shanghai estuary, over a period of six weeks. It was the first cetacean species to become extinct as a result of human activities.
Note
A species is said to be functionally extinct when the population is no longer viable, or it has no role to play in the ecosystem. Nevertheless, it will be enlisted as a ‘critically endangered’ species for some time, before it is moved to the list of extinct species.

How Did the Yangtze River Dolphin Become Extinct?

The extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin wasn’t really surprising, as its population had taken a severe hit over the period. It plunged from over 5,000 in the 1950s to less than 400 in the 1980s, and down to 13 by 1997. As with other river dolphins, one of the major problems this species faced was that of a restricted range. It was found in the lower course of the Yangtze―the longest river of Asia. The upper course of the river was perhaps too swift for it. But then, the major reason for the extinction of this species came with the onset of industrialization in China. Each of the reasons are discussed below.
The Great Leap Forward
The Yangtze River dolphin was hailed as the Goddess of the Yangtze at one point of time, but was stripped of this status when Mao Zedong set out to eradicate superstition and idol worship as a part of his ambitious campaign ‘The Great Leap Forward’. Thus, began the hunting of this species for its flesh and skin. It was just the beginning of bad times to befall the species though, as the worse was yet to come.
Increased Fishing in the Yangtze
Also to be blamed for the extinction of the baiji was the advent of modern fishing gear, which resulted in high incidental mortality of the species. A large number of dolphins died after getting entangled in fishing gear, as they were not able to surface to breathe. Then came the concept of electric fishing, which made hunting of this harmless species even easier. By the beginning of the 21st century, electric fishing had become the biggest threat for the survival of this species.
Demons of Industrialization
✦ Things went from bad to worse, as China took to industrial development, and the environment took a backseat. The Yangtze River dolphin was one of the many species to bear the brunt of environmental pollution, caused due to the dumping on industrial waste in the Yangtze.

✦ Furthermore, when the Chinese decided to develop the Yangtze as a waterway, the riverbed was dredged and even reinforced with concrete in some places. This, along with pollution, resulted in the loss of habitat for the Yangtze River dolphin.

✦ The construction of the Three Gorges Dam didn’t just result in the loss of habitat for the species, but also provided a boost for shipping traffic. The traffic increased over the course of time, and so did the size of ships.

✦ The increase in shipping traffic also translated into more noise pollution, as a result of which the nearly blind and disoriented baiji collided with ships, and even got caught in propellers.

Despite the fact that the Yangtze River dolphin languished in the list of endangered species for decades, no concrete measures were taken to save it from extinction. In fact, even a range-wide survey was only initiated in 2006, almost a decade after it was revealed that only 13 dolphins were left in the wild. This lethargy on the part of concerned authorities was equally responsible for the extinction of this dolphin species.
Post Script: Ironically, the range-wide survey of 2006 was initiated to capture Yangtze River dolphins, and start a captive breeding program to save them.

Curiously Interesting Facts About the Sleeping Habits of Dolphins

Did You Know?
A dolphin needs 8 to 12 breaths a minute when fairly active. The breathing rate can drop to 3 to 7 breaths per minute while resting. It can catch a catnap between trips to the ocean surface.
Dolphins, the aquatic mammals, are known for the acrobatic leaps that they make out of the water and also for their stunning performances in various shows. They have been very friendly to humans since time immemorial. They are helpful and playful by nature, and are quite energetic too. Trained dolphins can be quite entertaining and so are commonly seen in aquariums, TV shows, and movies. You must have observed that they need to come to the surface for breathing.
Most fish breathe through their gills, but dolphins breathe air using their lungs. They breathe through a blowhole on top of their head. It is covered by a muscular flap when they are underwater, and it opens to exhale as they reach the surface. They surface at regular intervals to exhale and inhale air. A group of dolphins is called a ‘school’ or a ‘pod’. Male dolphins are called ‘bulls’, females ‘cows’, and young dolphins are called ‘calves’.
Humans breathe involuntarily, but dolphins have to decide when to breathe. They have to be conscious to breathe. This means that they cannot enjoy a sound, deep sleep, because then they would run out of breath. Mother Nature has solved this problem by offering them an exclusive skill with the help of which they can let one half of their brain sleep at a time. Various studies on dolphins have proved this fact.
Usually, fish reduce their activity and metabolism, and take some rest. But they remain alert to prospective predators. Most fish do not have eyelids, so their eyes remain open during such periods of ‘suspended animation.’ This type of rest performs the same restorative function as ‘sleep’ does in other animals and humans. But if dolphins sleep like this and if they fail to come to the surface for breathing, then they would suffocate and die. So, how do they manage to sleep without drowning?
How Do Dolphins Sleep?
Like all other fish, dolphins get plenty of exercise as they’re constantly swimming around. They also need rest. With only one of the cerebral hemispheres resting at a time, dolphins can sleep with one eye open. The cerebral hemisphere that is working (not shut down) monitors the activities in the surrounding environment and controls breathing functions. This type of sleep is called ‘unihemispheric sleep.’ The eye to the opposite side of the sleeping half of the brain remains open. Dolphins need to keep a part of the brain alert to trigger each breath. Researchers have studied the brain wave patterns of sleeping captive dolphins. Through the electroencephalograms (EEGs) of dolphin brains, they have found that one of the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain remains awake, while the other goes into a state of deep sleep (described as ‘slow-wave sleep’). Sleeping dolphins are quite close to unconsciousness, but at the same time, they are aware enough of their surroundings to wake up completely if needed. This type of sleep helps them to come to the surface for breathing, and also to watch for possible predators and threats. It also helps regulate their internal body temperature. It is probably something like the semi-conscious state that we experience as we meditate or as we begin to fall asleep.
Dolphins in Captivity
In captive dolphins, scientists have found that both hemispheres of brain can go into a ‘slow-wave sleep’ mode simultaneously. They can sleep with both eyes closed. They do not respond to mild external stimuli when they are fast asleep. The process of respiration continues and does not get affected. A tail kick reflex helps keep the blowhole above the water, whenever required. More research is needed to know whether dolphins in the wild reach this state.
When Do Dolphins Sleep
Dolphins don’t sleep at a specific time, like we humans do, and they usually sleep as a group. Most of the pod goes into the half-sleep mode at the time. They just ‘switch off’ when safe. So, they are often found ‘daydreaming’, saving energy.
Where Do Dolphins Sleep?
Dolphin Resting
While going into the sleep mode, dolphins prefer to stay close to the surface of the ocean so that they can come up for air easily. They can also rest at the surface with their blowhole exposed. This is the reason why they are sometimes seen ‘logging’, swimming slowly along the surface, with very little movement. They (mostly dolphins in captivity) may rest at the bottom, if the water is shallow, and come to the surface for breathing at regular intervals.
Pattern of Swimming During Sleep
Pattern During Sleep
A study was conducted by the University of California at Santa Cruz on Pacific white-sided dolphins. Researchers found that the dolphins swim in a circle with the open eye facing other dolphins in the circle. Predators are less likely to attack a group of large animals. The tight circle minimizes the chances of being attacked by predators. Once the dolphins get sufficient rest, the school breaks up, and they continue with their normal activities. Adult male dolphins usually travel in pairs, and often swim slowly side by side as they sleep.
How Long Do Dolphins Sleep in a Day?
Researchers have observed that dolphins can be in the state of unihemispheric sleep for approximately eight hours a day. But this may not apply to each and every species of dolphins. The Indus river dolphin exhibits a completely different sleep pattern. These dolphins have to face strong water currents and harmful floating debris. To avoid serious injury, they need to swim continuously. As a result, they sleep in very short bursts. They can enjoy short naps, lasting between 4 and 60 seconds. Most dolphins sleep frequently throughout the day in short periods, and at the end of the day, accumulate a total of about 8 hours of rest. Electroencephalogram (EEG) readings show that bottlenose dolphins spend an average of 33.4 % of their day sleeping. According to a study report published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, dolphins can maintain nonstop vigilance for at least five days without experiencing any physical signs of sleep deprivation.
How Can Dolphins Hold Their Breath Longer?
  • They have proportionately larger lungs.
  • They can exchange more air at each breath.
  • Their red blood cells can carry more oxygen.
  • As they dive, only the brain, heart, and the swimming muscles receive blood (oxygen). Other processes like digestion are halted for the time being.
  • They can tolerate relatively higher levels of carbon dioxide.
What About a Cow and a Calf?
Unihemispheric sleep is beneficial for both the mother dolphin and her calf. Like in all other species, dolphin calves are especially vulnerable to predators like sharks. So the mother swims, towing the calf along in her slipstream. This type of positioning (placement) is called echelon swimming. The mothers also want their calves near them for nursing. It would be dangerous for the mothers and the calves to fall asleep. A 2005 study on captive bottlenose dolphins and calves showed that, at least at the surface, for one month after the birth of the calf, both mom and calf appeared awake 24/7. Gradually, they started taking short naps. In this study, the pairs were observed only at the surface. In 2007, a similar study showed that the mother and the calf at the surface did not sleep for about 2 months after the calf was born. They occasionally rested with an eye closed, but only for brief periods. Females and young dolphins are often seen traveling in larger pods. They usually rest in the same general area. It has been noticed that their friends swim alongside and guide them.
Human breathing is a constant, involuntary process. On the contrary, dolphins are conscious breathers. The sleeping habits of dolphins are suitable for schooling behavior in a marine environment. They are well-equipped with a voluntary respiratory system to handle underwater sleeping. It’s good that human beings have not yet mastered the art of putting half of their brains to sleep, otherwise most people would have been found half-asleep, daydreaming at their desks!

Astonishing Facts About the Extremely Rare Indus River Dolphin

Did You Know?
Besides the Amazon in South America, Asian rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, and Irrawaddy are also home to freshwater dolphins.
It’s sad that the Yangtze River dolphin or Baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) came into the spotlight only after it became functionally extinct. If extinction is the price these mammals have to pay to make their presence felt, then other river dolphins, including the two subspecies of the South Asian river dolphin (Platanista gangetica): the Indus River dolphin (P. g. minor) and the Ganges River dolphin (P. g. gangetica) are also on their way.
The two subspecies are morphologically similar, such that, it is difficult to distinguish them from each other. The differences between them revolve around their geographic range, and the fact that the Indus River dolphin is slightly smaller of the two. Their classification as two separate species was revised in 1998, to make them two subspecies of the South Asian river dolphin.
Indus River Dolphin Facts
1. The present-day geographic range of the Indus River dolphin is restricted to the lower and middle areas of the main stem of the Indus in Pakistan. Historically though, this dolphin has been recorded in abundance along the length of the Indus, right from the foothills of the Himalayas in India to the Indus River delta in Pakistan.
2. The Indus River dolphin boasts of being the first side-swimming cetacean to be discovered. Its unique ability to swim on its sides helps it move around in relatively shallow water―as shallow as 1 meter at times.
3. Echolocation plays a crucial role for this species with respect to navigation and hunting, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that it is functionally blind. Its tiny eyes lack a crystalline eye lens, and therefore, it can only detect light levels.
4. It is also known as the Indus side-swimming dolphin, because of its ability to swim on its sides, and the Indus blind dolphin, as it is functionally blind. Besides these names, it is also called Bhulan in the local language.
5. This dolphin measures 7 – 9 ft in length, and weighs around 150 – 200 lb, which makes it slightly smaller than its sister species, the Ganges river dolphin. The females are larger than the males, in what is one of the best examples of sexual dimorphism.
6. The long, pointed nose is a characteristic adaptation of river dolphins the world over; the Indus River dolphin is no exception. It uses its nose to probe sediments at the bottom of the river while hunting bottom-dwelling species in the muddy water of the Indus.
7. Its diet comprises invertebrates like prawns and clams, as well as fish such as catfish and gobies.
8. It has a lifespan of 28 – 30 years. The species attains sexual maturity between 6 – 10 years of age.
9. The Indus River dolphin is considered the second most endangered cetacean in the world.
10. The species is enlisted as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the Red List of Threatened Species, with roughly around 1,200 – 1,300 individuals remaining in the wild.
11. Habitat fragmentation resulting from the construction of barrages along the Indus is by far the biggest threat for the Indus River dolphin, as it isolates the populations of this species and makes breeding difficult.
12. Other threats to the species include increasing pollution with industrial and agricultural waste being dumped into the river, and the use of fishing nets in which they get entangled and cannot surface to breathe. Additionally, they are also hunted by the locals for their oil and meat.
The conservation of the Indus River dolphin is also important because it’s the flagship species―the ambassador of its natural habitat. The authorities have no doubt made some efforts to save this species. In 1974, for instance, the 125-mile Guddu-Sukkur segment of the Indus was declared the Indus Dolphin Reserve. Environmentalists though, believe that more needs to be done, or else this species will be only seen in the IUCN Red List a few years from now.

These Interesting Dolphin Food Facts Will Tell You What They Eat

Did You Know?
The biggest threat to dolphins is human activity, as they have very few enemies in their natural habitat. The Amazon, the Ganges, and the Yangtze river dolphin are critically endangered species, owing to human interference.

Dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae, which also include orcas and pilot whales―all of whom are cetacean mammals. Usually, the smaller cetaceans who have an elongated nose are referred to as ‘dolphins’; the larger specimens are called whales.

Their habitats are found all over the world, and thus what dolphins eat varies to a great extent. Being carnivores, their diet mainly comprises fish and squid, and the amount of food they consume depends upon their size.

What Dolphins Eat

◾ Large dolphin species like killer whales feed on marine mammals like sea lions, sea turtles, and seals.

◾ Black dolphins, also known as Chilean dolphins are relatively smaller in size, and their diet comprises small species of fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans.

◾ Bottlenose dolphins eat small fish and sometimes feed on squid, crabs, shrimp, and other small sea creatures. They make use of their tail to hunt, and like most dolphin species, prefer to hunt in groups. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins consume mullet and catfish.

◾ Indus River dolphins eat freshwater fish, such as gobies and carp.

◾ Dusky dolphins eat shrimp, squid and various fish, including anchovies.

◾ Spinner dolphins eat fish, jellyfish and krill, which is a kind of shrimp.

Dolphins’ Eating Habits

◾ Herding is a common style in which the dolphins hunt for food. This involves a pod working together to get a school of fish to curl up in the center, surrounded by dolphins. Then, each dolphin takes turns to quickly swallow whatever fish it can, while the others stand guard.

◾ Some species make use of their tail to hit their prey and stun it, and consume it while it remains disoriented.

◾ Food is considered to be a major motivating factor in the dolphin traveling for long distances. They migrate to an area where the water temperature is suitable, along with the availability of food.

◾ There are times when dolphins mistake plastic debris or other human waste as food. It is extremely hazardous for them, and they usually perish after choking on it.

Types of Dolphins

It’s ironic that oceanic dolphins are more popular than river dolphins, especially because it’s the latter who are in dire need of attention. In this particular article, we will shed light on different types of dolphins in a bid to make readers aware of the fact that the world of these cetaceans goes well beyond the bottlenose species.
Lost in translation!

Killer whales are actually dolphins and not whales. Long story short, the Spanish sailors used to call them ‘Matador de Ballenas‘, which can be loosely translated to killer of whales. The ‘of’ in that phrase, has since been lost in translation.

When we hear the word ‘dolphin’, what comes to mind is the endearing and highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin shown in movies and television shows. The fact though, is that there are 42 different species of dolphins, ranging from the Hector’s dolphin, which happens to be the smallest dolphin in the world, to the Orca or killer whale, which happens to be the largest of all dolphin species.

Different Types of Dolphins

The 42 extant dolphin species are grouped into 4 types, based on various factors, including which part of the world they are found in and what type of water they inhabit. So, we have dolphins that inhabit oceans, like the famous bottlenose dolphins and killer whales, as well as ones that inhabit freshwater sources, like the Amazon river dolphin and South Asian river dolphin. While the Amazon river dolphin is a New World species, the South Asian river dolphin is an Old World species.

In short, there is a great deal of diversity when it comes to the world of these marine mammals.

Of the four river dolphin species, the first three reside in freshwater rivers, while the La plata dolphin dwells in the salt-water estuary. Extant river dolphins do not bear much semblance to their oceanic cousins. Their beaks are extremely large, even forming one-fifth of the total body length in some species. They have extremely well-developed brains and short, broad flippers. Moreover, they are almost blind, which makes sense, considering that they live in muddy water and hence, do not need vision.

Porpoises (Family Phocoenidae)

Despite all the similarities, porpoises are different from dolphins. They are smaller and have short, blunt snouts. They are often referred to as small dolphins by sailors and fishermen. The six extant species of porpoises are …

» Burmeister’s porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis)
» Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)
» Finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides)
» Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
» Spectacled porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica)
» Vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus)

If they have not been able to emerge independently, it might have something to do with the fact that they have been overshadowed by dolphins, their popular cousins.

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Amazon river pink dolphin, and the Indus river dolphin are on the brink of extinction, while the Yangtze river dolphin (A.K.A. Baiji) has been declared functionally extinct. River dolphins in particular are at a greater risk because of river pollution, increasing river traffic, constructions of dams, destruction of tropical rainforests, etc. Oceanic dolphins too, have a whole lot of woes of their own; noise pollution resulting from marine transportation being one of them. Various volunteer programs and organizations have dedicated themselves to the noble cause of saving these dolphins, but then, the fact that we have neglected the species for so long means it won’t be an easy task.

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