The Delphinus delphis, or the common dolphin, is the most abundant cetacean in the world, with a total population of six million globally. While we are aware that dolphins travel in pods, did you know they actually travel in megapods consisting of thousands of dolphins?
A megapod consists of over 10,000 dolphins. Being mammals, they are highly sociable, but they primarily travel in pods to protect each other from predators like sharks.
Why Do Dolphins Swim in Pods?
By definition, a pod is a group of dolphins that travel together. Mammals, in general, are sociable creatures. Dolphins, being mammals, rely on social learning and relationships to survive in the wild. They play, hunt, travel, and even practice courtship groups. But more importantly, being in pods keep them safe. They alert each other when there is danger nearby or a possible predator on the loose.
Dolphins are known to sleep with one half of their brain at a time. This allows them to remain alert and active while traveling. In a pod, dolphins are able to have the rest they need while others keep on the lookout. (Source: Marine Sanctuary)
Is There Any Form Social Order Within the Pod?
Social order within a pod is created and maintained through the form of communication. Dolphins whistle, click, squeak, and use non-verbal cues such as eye contact and synchronized swimming to communicate with each other. They rely on effective communication for survival. In fact, scientists believe each dolphin is assigned a unique whistle as soon as they are born, somewhat similar to how people give names to their children. This helps them locate each other when they are within a larger group. (Source: Marine Sanctuary)
How Many Dolphins are Usually within a Single Pod
Most ordinary pods consist of two to thirty dolphins. But on occasion, depending on species, dolphins form superpods or megapods. These contain hundreds and even thousands of dolphins. Massive pods like this often occur when multiple groups of dolphins converge during hunting or mating seasons. However, these large groups don’t last very long, and they are quite rare to spot. By the time an activity is done, they will disperse into their smaller pods.
Pods are also uncategorized according to their function;
Maternal or Nursery Pods
Often include adult female and their calves that range from newborns up to three years of age. This social dynamic allows the mother dolphins to babysit the calves while others hunt. This also helps the young dolphins learn the skills they need before they part from their mothers.
This pod classification includes both young male and female dolphins that left or have been kicked out of their maternal pods. They travel together until they find a new social group to join.
These pods are often small groups of two or four adult males that have bonded with each other closely. This close social relationship allows for mating, territorial, and hunting behavior. Bachelor pods will rarely interact with other social groups.
(Source: Marine Sanctuary)
1 thought on “What Are Dolphin Megapods?”
I have noticed, on the Atlantic Crystal Coast of NC, that the summer visiting dolphins and the returning year round Dolphins cone together before the summer overs leave, for sort of a party. For a day or two they will hang out together before the summer friends go their way for the winter. I believe the save party happens in the early summer when the dinner dolphins return and the regular pops leave for 2 months. Just my observation this morning was the megapod. Juveniles actively jumping, breaching, trail smacking, and high rolling.