Dolphin leaping

An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin leaps out of the water. (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

It’s summer, and humans aren’t the only mammal tourists visiting the waters of the Chesapeake. Will you be lucky enough to see an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin? If not, you can learn more about these animals by taking this quiz. Answers are below.

1. Dolphins have occasionally been sighted as far north as Baltimore Harbor, the Chester River and Washington, DC. Where are you most likely to see dolphins in the Chesapeake?

A. Cape Charles 

B. Elizabeth River

C. James River

D. All of the above

2. Dolphins eat a variety of Chesapeake species. Which of these is not on their menu?

A. Crustaceans, including shrimp, crabs

B. Fish, including spot, croaker, menhaden, silver perch

C. Invertebrates, including squid, jellyfish

D. Aquatic vegetation, including eelgrass, redhead grass, widgeon grass

3. Dolphins cannot drink the water where they are normally found because it’s too salty. Where do dolphins get the water they need to survive?

A. They surface when it rains and open their mouths skyward to catch the drops.

B. They travel up freshwater rivers to drink there.

C. They absorb water through their skin, which filters out the salt.

D. They get all the water they need from the fish they eat.

4. A male dolphin is called a bull, a female dolphin is called a cow and a young dolphin is called a calf. What is a group of dolphins called?

A. Herd

B. Pod

C. Platoon

D. Squad

5. Dolphins are at the top of their food chain. Still, that doesn’t stop the occasional orca or a large shark — especially a bull shark — from making a meal out of a dolphin. Dolphins won’t go down without a fight, though. What dolphin defense do predators try hard to avoid?

A. A hard wallop from its tail

B. A nasty bite from its long, sharp teeth

C. A poke from its strong, hard beaklike nose

D. A slicing cut from its fin

6. Dolphins are highly intelligent and playful. They have been observed chasing each other (like tag), tossing seaweed between them (like catch) and carrying objects, which they sometime use to try to persuade another dolphin to play. What ages are seen doing these activities?

A. Older dolphins

B. Younger dolphins

C. Both young & old dolphins

7. Dolphin eyesight is excellent both in and out of the water. At night, Dolphins are able to see in shades of gray and one other color spectrum. Which spectrum is it?

A. Blue-green

D. Blue-purple

B. Yellow-orange

C. Yellow-green

8. Dolphins can hear much better than humans. How much better?

A. 5 times

B. 10 times

C. 15 times

D. 20 times

9. How do dolphins communicate with other dolphins? 

A. Clicking

B. Creaking & squeaking

C. Whistling

D. All of the above

10. Humans pose the greatest threat to dolphins. How?

A. Fishing equipment, such as gill nets

B. Hunting (FYI: Dolphin meat can contain chemical contaminants.)

C. Pollution

D. All of the above

11. Dolphins are in the family Delphinidae. Three of these whales are also in this family. Which one isn’t?

A. Beluga whale

B. Killer whale (orca)

C. Melon-headed whale

D. Pilot whale


1. D, 2. D, 3. D, 4. B, 5. C, 6. C, 7. A, 8. B, 9. D, 10. D, 11. A


Kathleen Gaskell is the Bay Journal's copy and layout editor and author of the Chesapeake Challenge. Contact Kathleen at

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