Dolphins Give Birth Off South Africa Coast

| Thu Dec. 9, 2010 2:25 PM EST

This post courtesy BBC Earth. For more wildlife news, find BBC Earth on Facebook and Posterous.

Christmas has come to mean many things to many people, but the holiday started as a celebration of new life. So we thought we’d celebrate new life in nature.

Around this time of year common dolphins of the coast of South Africa make an early new start, with a large number of calves being born. Although they give birth all year round, the female dolphins that don’t give birth in the summer sardine run use the huge food supply to build up reserves and calve in December. So to celebrate this abundance of new life, we’ve decided to share some of our favourite common dolphin videos and images with you.

The coast of South Africa hosts a massive number of common dolphins, around 20,000. They follow shoals of sardines, on which the newborns will be weaned in six months. These dolphins are sociable animals. Travelling in groups of around anywhere between ten and 50 individuals, they gather into huge schools that can number as large as 2,000.

When they do get together, they love to play, breaching, chin-slapping, tail-slapping and porpoising (constantly submerging and resurfacing).

They also love a form of ‘surfing’, known as bow-riding, where they swim or ride the crests of waves. Dolphin-watchers will know this behaviour, as it’s what dolphins do when they follow boats. One theory suggests it started when dolphins started following whales.