How Long Can Dolphins Stay Out of Water?

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A common question that is usually asked is “can dolphins breathe underwater?” The answer is no, dolphins can’t breathe underwater – but although dolphins need to breathe oxygen in order to survive, they are still aquatic and must remain hydrated in order to live. A dolphin can live out of water for hours IF it is kept wet and cool. One of the biggest dangers to a dolphin being out of water is their inability to regulate their body temperature. We will explain how dolphins regulate their blood temperature and the risk this poses to dolphins out of the water too long.

How Dolphins Regulate Body Temperature?

Dolphins are warm-blooded and need to maintain a steady body temperature of 96-97 degrees Fahrenheit. Because dolphins do not have sweat glands, they regulate their body temperature via thermoregulation. Dolphins can control their body temperature in the following ways:

  • Blubber – a dolphin’s blubber can insulate the body against extreme temperature changes
  • Surface Area – dolphins can expel heat from their surface areas on its body like their flukes and dorsal fins
  • During Dives – when they are diving, dolphins can reduce blood circulation to channel efficiency to their organs
  • Change Environments – dolphins can move to colder or warmer aquatic areas as needed to help regulate their body temperature

Because dolphins rely on their environment to help regulate body temperature, dolphins may find themselves facing the potential risk of becoming overheated if their environment gets too hot. So, if they are out of water in a warmer climate, they face the danger of becoming extremely overheated because they are unable to thermoregulate.

How Long Can a Dolphin Hold Its Breath?

Dolphins can survive out of water for several hours if they are kept wet and in an appropriate temperature, but just how long can they stay underwater until they need to breathe again?

Even though dolphins can’t breathe underwater, they can still hold their breath for a very long time. An average dolphin can hold its breath underwater for eight to ten minutes. Some dolphin species can even remain underwater for up to fifteen minutes! This gives them the ability to engage in extended dives where they can catch fish and other prey.

How Do Dolphins Breathe?

Dolphins’ process for breathing functions very similar to a whale’s. Similar to whales, dolphins also have a blowhole that is located at the top of their heads, through which they expel CO2 and remaining air in their lungs. When a dolphin needs to take in air, it breaches the surface of the ocean and exhales before taking its next breath. During the powerful exhale, dolphins will spray up water at the surface of the ocean, producing what is referred to as a dolphin “spout”. When navigating the deep blue in search of marine life, many boat captains will use whale and dolphin spouts to identify species from far away!

Harbor Breeze Experience

To see dolphins, whales and other marine life in their natural habitat, we invite you to experience an unforgettable Los Angeles whale watching and Long Beach whale watching cruise with Harbor Breeze! With decades of experience navigating the waters on the West Coast, we promise you a thrilling trip that the entire family will love and cherish for years to come. Contact us for ticket information by calling 562-432-4900 today. We hope to see you aboard soon!

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