Panda Dolphin ( Commerson’s Dolphin ) – An Amazing Creation Of Mother Nature

Photo by Fernando Díaz Segovia

Commerson’s Dolphin is nicknamed also as Panda Dolphin. It has other names such as Piebald dolphin and Tonina Overa as well. And today, what made us feel like selecting this fellow over rest of all the other 49 dolphin species is, their ability to change the color over time!

Including that, they have hold many more secrets that we would have to dive and reveal!

You snooze, you lose!  It’s diving time!!

Who is Commerson’s Dolphin?

This Panda looking dolphin was named as Commerson’s Dolphin, after it was first witnessed by Dr. Philibert Commerson in 1767. In addition to the names stated prior, he is also known as Jacobita and Skunk dolphin too. Moreover, scientifically it is known as, Cephalorhynchus commersonii. Even though in general we see Commerson’s Dolphin as a specific single creature, in depth, there are two different sub species of Commerson’s Dolphins in the world. They are namely as, C.c.commersonii and C.c.kerguelenesis.

Moreover, Panda Dolphin belongs to mammal class who use lungs to breathe and raise its babies by feeding milk. As all most all the dolphins, Panda Dolphin also comes under the order of cetacean, whose front limbs have been adapted into flippers with no rear limbs.

How does Panda Dolphin look?

Photo credit : [IG]@dgoodgerphoto
The reason behind the name Panda Dolphin is their black and white color codes of the skin, which reminds us the land living Panda fellow. Usually whom people recognize as Panda Dolphin is C.c.commersonii who sharply depicts black and white patterns on its body.  But the other sub specie of Panda Dolphin, C.c.kerguelenesis also possesses these black and whites patterns but along with a less intensity of color and it is much closer to gray. Moreover, they are comparatively larger in size.

The length of a grown Panda Dolphin is 1.8m and weighs around 86kg. And usually, female dolphins grow slightly larger, compared to a male in this specie. Further, the cylindrical body shape of the Panda Dolphin creates less drag in swimming with less area exposed to the outer world. And he has a round dorsal fin surrounded by veins as a measure to keep a constant body temperature in his body!

Lifestyle of Panda Dolphin

Commerson’s Dolphin is a solitary animal. Therefore, he is found alone or in small groups often. And he is a long distance traveler who possesses a speed of around 15 km per hour.

As per their diet, they love preying small animals such as squid, cuttlefish, crab and shrimps. Further, it has 116 to 120 teeth in his mouth adapted for tearing food. They do not chew the food but swallow and they usually have a daily portion of food around 10% out of their overall body weight to revive its strength. And these fellows use to hunt keeping their body upside down in water and most often, hunting takes place in nights.

Mating rituals of Panda Dolphin

When it comes to its mating habits, the South American Panda Dolphin and the Indian Oceanic Dolphin get matured sexually in different ages. Dark skinned South American Female are matured, when it is 5-8 years old and male, when it is 5-6. The light skinned Kerguelens are different and their females are matured at the age of 5 and male at about 8. And both their gestation period takes 12 months: An annum! After a struggle of an entire year, a female Panda Dolphin gives birth only for single baby at a time!

And this baby Dolphin is called a calf and it holds the ability to change the body color!

Yes, at birth the baby Panda Dolphin is either gray, black or white. And over time he develops the panda typed color changes on their body, converting its dolphin body to a Panda Dolphin body. Further, it has some hair in his body at birth and within several days, they disappear.

Where do Panda Dolphins live?

Photo credit : [IG]@dgoodgerphoto
Although the above mentioned two types of sub species of Commerson’s Dolphins are in the same family, still these fellows live geographically isolated. Meanwhile C.c.commersonii lives in South America, C.c.kerguelenesis lives in the Indian Ocean. Despite this geographical difference, most of the scientists see them as one specie. They love swimming in cold water in less than 200m deep.

Threats on the Panda Dolphins?

They usually live around 18 years under natural circumstances. But Panda Dolphins have natural predators such as killer whales, sharks and leopard seals but unfortunately the documents reveal the severe threats on these fellows from a third party out of this list!

They are humans!!
As this creature is a playful and an active specie, they love swimming behind fast moving boats. Further, Panda Dolphins love being closer to sea shore. Therefore, the tendency of them being entangled in fishing gears is very high. Moreover, due to its friendly nature and the proximity of living in sea shore, there is a high vulnerability for them to be subjected to many harms.

Considering the less number of available Panda Dolphins and the high vulnerability, IUCN has listed this creature in its Red List of Threatened Species!

In addition to these direct human activities, Ocean pollution has also effected badly on the survival of these fellows. Both natural toxins as well as the man made toxins influence badly on these animals and their food chains as well. The chemicals that accumulate to the ocean through water ways as a result of mining operations, agriculture and other industrial developments have poisoned their natural habitats. Although they absorb only a limited portion of the poison directly, due to being a middle member of the food chain, a huge portion of toxins amount into their bodies indirectly, along with the huge number of small preys they consume per day.

However, as a matter of fact, we all agree that distinctly both Pandas and Dolphins are adorable creatures who demand love and affection alike.

So we need to be human to take this Panda Dolphin as a multiplier of both of them!

And yes, therefore it needs double the love, double the care!!

And accordingly, let’s raise our voice to protect these innocent creatures!!!


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