There are two types of locals: Those that live on land, and those that live in the water. Those in the water were here first, but graciously share this area with us humans who reside here and who vacation here.
It doesn’t take long once arriving to spot a pod of dolphins. They hang out in the Harbor, in the Destin Pass, in the Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll see them cruise around, popping up to say hello, chasing fish, and, if you’re lucky, even doing tricks like jumping out of the water and putting on a show.
The most popular type of dolphin you’ll see here is the Bottlenose dolphin. There are more than 10,000 that reside in the Gulf of Mexico! They range from 6-13 feet long, weight 300-1400 pounds and live 40-60 years. They are light gray to white on their belly, can swim up to 20 m.p.h. and surface two-to-three times a minute to breathe.
Dolphins are also considered one of the most intelligent animals. They learn quickly, socialize and play, and can also recognize themselves in the mirror. Another fun fact is that they have two stomachs; one to hold the food and one to digest it.
On top of being intelligent, they can communicate with each other, give each other names, and use whistles and clicking noises to communicate to each other. Ask anyone who is on the water every day, and they’ll tell you that the dolphins know who they are; they remember them and come straight to the same boats daily.
While a lot of people want to swim with dolphins when they visit the area, the dolphins are protected by the law. It is illegal to feed or touch a dolphin in the wild, for the safety of you and the animal. The only way to swim with a dolphin would be in protected water of a water park or training facility.
If you’re a local or looking to see some while you’re visiting, the area offers a variety of dolphin tours, excursions and more to see these beautiful creatures. They are most playful in the late mornings, and sometimes late afternoon through sunset, but can be spotted most any time of day. They respond to verbal noise like cheering or clapping, and slapping the water if you’re able to get close to it. Most days, you can even see them while lying or walking on the beach…if you’re looking.
Keep your eyes peeled, as these amazing creatures are everywhere, and seeing them is exciting, no matter how many times you have before.