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By Fino Menezes
Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.
Adapting to Life in the Ocean Required Some Serious Skills for a Mammal<p>Dolphins have developed some incredible abilities that continue to amaze researchers.</p>
1. Sleep<p>Everything needs to sleep, but dolphins have found a clever workaround. They shut down only half their brain at a time while the <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501090908.htm" target="_blank">other half remains conscious</a> and takes over all functions. What's more, the mammals seem to be able to remain continually vigilant for sounds for days on end.</p>
2. Vision<p>Besides sonar, which is itself pretty incredible, <a href="https://brightvibes.com/915/en/10-surprising-superpowers-of-dolphins" target="_blank">dolphins have excellent eyesight</a>. A panoramic range of vision of 300° allows them to see in two directions at once and even behind themselves — both in <u>and</u> out of the water.</p>
3. Super Skin<p>Dolphin skin grows about 9 times faster than ours, and an entire layer of skin is replaced every two hours. Their skin secretes a special non-stick <a href="https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/bottlenose-dolphins/physical-characteristics" target="_blank">antibacterial gel</a> to deter barnacles and parasites.</p>
4. They Rescue Other Species<p>There are many tales of <a href="https://www.dolphins-world.com/dolphins-rescuing-humans/" target="_blank">dolphins helping humans</a> in the high sea. Sometimes they'll even go out of their way to help other aquatic species.</p>
5. Respiration<p>Bottlenose dolphins can hold their breath for 12 minutes and dive to 550 metres (1800ft) due to <a href="https://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/bottlenose-dolphins/adaptations" target="_blank">hyper-efficient lungs</a>. Dolphins have more red blood cells with greater concentrations of hemoglobin than we do.</p>
6. Healing<p>Scientists are baffled by dolphins' ability to not only heal quickly but seemingly <a href="https://www.livescience.com/15150-dolphin-recovery-human-healing.html" target="_blank">regenerate missing parts</a>. And dolphins won't bleed to death despite huge wounds, having the ability to <a href="https://www.rebelmouse.com/wordpress-vip-2401656056.html" target="_blank">constrict blood vessels</a> to stem the flow.</p>
7. Pain<p>Dolphins are as <a href="http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/dolphin-healing/" target="_blank">sensitive to pain as humans</a>, but when inflicted with serious wounds scientists believe they are able to produce <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/dolphins-shark-attacks-dolphins-heal-regenerate-wounded-fins/story?id=14165362&page=2#.T6OOkuiWm8A" target="_blank">natural morphine-strength painkillers</a> that are nonaddictive.</p>
8. Thrust<p>While an Olympic swimmer can produce around 60 or 70 pounds of thrust, a dolphin is capable of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124131334.htm" target="_blank">300 to 400 pounds of thrust</a> and is one of the oceans most efficient swimmers.</p>
9. Infection<p>How dolphins are able to <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/07/26/138677504/shark-bites-no-match-for-dolphins-powers-of-healing" target="_blank">swim with open wounds</a> in the bacteria-riddled ocean and not die of infection, scientists still don't know for sure, but the best guess is that dolphins have managed to siphon off <a href="http://www.jidonline.org/" target="_blank">a</a><a href="http://www.jidonline.org/" target="_blank">ntibiotics made by plankton and algae</a>.</p>
10. Electroreception<p>Dolphins can actually <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/07/guiana-dolphins-can-use-electric-signals-locate-prey" target="_blank">sense the electrical impulses</a> given off by all living things. They probably use this ability to hunt fish in turbid water and muddy sediments.</p><p>These extraordinarily intelligent and graceful creatures have also been seen to display culture, use tools, and display altruism, traits long-thought to be unique to humans.</p>
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By Chandra Salgado Kent
Scientific research doesn't usually mean being strapped in a harness by the open paratroop doors of a Vietnam-war-era Hercules plane. But that's the situation I found myself in several years ago, the result of which has just been published in the journal Marine Biodiversity.
A passive garbage collector floating through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. EPA / THE OCEAN CLEANUP HANDOUT
Mating green turtles in a sea of plastics. Photo by Chandra P. Salgado Kent, author provided
Crew sorts plastic debris collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on a voyage in July 2019. EPA / THE OCEAN CLEANUP
A jellyfish entangled in plastic rubbish and ropes in the North Pacific Ocean. AAP Image / The Algalita Marine Research Foundation
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