Dolphin colors

Kids' Science Quickie:

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Dolphins come in many different colors. Some dolphins, like the killer whale, have dramatic black and white patches, whereas bottlenose dolphins are a soft gray color. If you take a look at images of various dolphin species, you will notice a trend that is true for most all species: the belly of a dolphin is usually a light color whereas a dolphin’s back is usually a darker color. Even bottlenose dolphins are not the same shade of gray all over – their bellies are much lighter. This kind of color pattern is seen in many animal species and is known as counter-shading. For animals living in the ocean, counter-shading is a kind of camouflage that helps them blend in and avoid detection. If you look down on a dolphin from above in the water, its dark coloring will help it to blend into the dark deeper waters or ocean bottom. But seen from below, the dolphin’s lighter belly helps it to blend into the bright sky or ocean surface. Many species of shark and fish have counter-shading as well. Penguins are another great example of an aquatic animal that uses counter-shading: their bellies are bright white but their backs are black. Counter-shading is a simple and effective form of camouflage, but it won’t keep you hidden well enough to avoid a penguin hug … *happy feet clip*

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