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Dolphins. They look like they would be a blast to hang out with, and they're very playful. And with a mouthful of teeth and curved lips, it even looks like they're smiling. And while they love to play around, they're also seriously smart. Scientists think that dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on Earth. But there's more to these mammals than their brains. 

We've been learning a lot about dolphins lately, and we can think of at least 5 good reasons why dolphins are not only some of the smartest animals, but also some of the coolest. 

Reason number one: They can let half of their brain sleep at a time. Doctors recommend that you and I and other humans get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, but sleeping in a cozy bed and our covers is way different than sleeping in an ocean full of predators. So a dolphin solves this problem by having only half their brain sleep at a time. When they get tired, half of  their brain goes to sleep and the other half stays awake. They even sleep with one eye open. This way they can stay aware of anything that might be lurking in the water nearby, like an orca or a great white shark.

Napping this way solves another problem too. Dolphins are mammals, just like us, so they need to breathe air to stay alive. But instead of breathing through their mouth or nose they breathe through their blowhole, which is an opening on top of their head. Letting only half of their brain doze at a time allows them to keep opening and closing their blowhole, so they can breathe. So for dolphins being half asleep is not a bad thing. 

Reason number two: They are super fast swimmers! Machines that go fast like trains, planes, and some boats are all streamlined, meaning they're shapes are curved to cut through the air or water. The bodies of dolphins, like this bottlenose dolphin, are also streamlined. They have smooth skin, a sleek shape, and a powerful tail. Put together these parts make dolphins able to slice through the water at high speeds, up to 30 kilometers an hour! That's faster than I can go on a bike!

Reason number three: Dolphins can jump about as high as your house! Dolphins' body shape not only helps them swim quickly, it also helps them launch themselves out of the water with a lot of force. Dolphins can jump more than 6 meters out of the water! That's over twice the length of their bodies! About as high as a two story building. If you could jump over twice the length of your body, you'd probably be able to jump over a school bus. 

Reason number four: Dolphins swim in groups of up to 2,000 animals! Dolphins are social animals; they love hanging out together. And they live in big groups called pods. Most pods have about 30 or so dolphins as members. But they can be bigger, much bigger. Just as human families get together for special occasions, so do dolphins. Not for birthday parties or anything, but instead they get together to hunt for food. When this happens, several pods can combine to make a giant pod, sometimes having 2,000 dolphins. 

And reason number 5 that dolphins are awesome: They use echoes to locate prey and find their way around. With so many friends and family members hanging around it's no surprise that dolphins are good communicators. Dolphins use a special language of squeaks and whistles which they use to report to one another when they find something to eat or to warn each other of danger. Even as a signal that a fellow dolphin might have gotten hurt and needs help.

Dolphins also use sound in a special way called echolocation. When they use this dolphins create a series of sounds, usually clicks. They make about 1,000 clicks every second. And when these sounds hit an object, say a tasty fish, they bounce back to the dolphin, like an echo. Based on this echo the dolphin can tell things like the size, shape, location, and even speed of its prey. Echolocation also comes in pretty handy as the dolphins make their way around the ocean, helping them to travel in murky water or at night. 

And there you have it. Five things that make dolphins one of the most awesome animals in the ocean. Or pretty much the world. What's your favorite animal? Let us know, and we'll see you next time on Sci Show Kids.

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