Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leaping Animals

Every animal we've celebrated so far this week has been a land lover. For our next featured leaper, we're going to the ocean.

If you've been to an aquarium or to Sea World, you've probably had the opportunity to watch a dolphin show. In these events trainers take a natural dolphin behavior (one the dolphin exhibits in the wild), highlight it and expand upon it. The twists, acrobatic leaps and extreme jumps from the water are not that common for the average wild dolphin to perform. Think of these entertainers as professional athletes.

In the wild, dolphins leap for any number of reasons. While surfing in the prow wake of a boat, leaping helps the dolphin conserve energy (it's easier to move through air). Some scientists believe a good leap may help dolphins get a different view of prey; dolphins see as well above water as they do below. Other scientists believe it’s the splash the dolphin is looking for. Crashing back into the water dislodges unwanted aquatic "hitchhikers." Whatever the beneficial reasons, there is another reason that scientists, naturalists and ordinary observers all agree on—dolphins leap for the sheer joy of it.

The Jungle Store has an Animal Fact article about the dolphin. Click on the link to read it.

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