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Spinner Dolphin Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Spinner dolphins are a small kind of dolphin. This lesson will teach you about spinner dolphins, how they got their name, where they live, what they like to eat and some other cool facts about them.

What Are Spinner Dolphins?

Imagine floating along on a boat in calm, blue ocean waters on a bright, sunny day. You're looking around at the waves when suddenly you see a spray of water coming off of what seems to be a spinning top. It looks like a dolphin, but it's whirling around so fast that it's really hard to tell. You've just seen a spinner dolphin!

Spinner dolphins are small dolphins that live in warm ocean water. They have long, skinny noses, and the fin on their back is shaped like a triangle.

Spinner dolphin with long nose and triange shaped fin
Spinner dolphin with long nose and triangle shaped fin

Spinner dolphins usually grow to be about 6 1/2 feet long and can weigh a little more than 170 pounds. It would take more than 1,750 spinner dolphins to equal the weight of one large blue whale!

But don't let their small size fool you. Spinner dolphins are like the Olympic gymnasts of dolphins and can jump, somersault and spin above the water, which is how they got their name!

Spinner dolphin jumping out of the water
Spinner dolphin jumping out of the water

Scientists believe that spinner dolphins act this way to knock pesky parasites off their skin, to talk to each other and to have fun playing in the water, similar to the way you jump and twist in the pool.

Where Do Spinner Dolphins Live?

Just like you, spinner dolphins like warm ocean water. They live in ocean water near Hawaii, close to Thailand and the coast of Central America near the Pacific Ocean. Most like to swim around in deeper ocean water, though a few cruise around closer to the shoreline.

Spinner dolphins like to hang out with each other and with other kinds of dolphins and fish in groups called schools, the way you like to hang out with different kids. There may be just a few dolphins in a school or as many as thousands. Bigger schools sometimes move from place to place or hunt together for food.

What Do Spinner Dolphins Eat?

Spinner dolphins are carnivores, which means they like to eat meat. They enjoy snacking on small, deeper swimming fish, shrimp and squid. One kind of spinner dolphin also chows down on sea creatures living at the bottom of the ocean and some that swim around in reefs.

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