Got kids? Then you've probably been asked, if not this very same question, then one very similar to it. This question came up in our house a few days ago, and after several Google searches and a consult with a National Park Service wildlife specialist (whose kids just happened to be trick-or-treating with ours,) I got an answer. I decided to share that answer here because if your kids haven't already asked this question, it's likely that they will sometime soon. Better to be prepared! I'd also like to invite you to submit your own stumpers here ... you know, all of those "Why do moths eat wool?" "How do birds know which way to fly in the winter?" "Why is the sky blue?" kind of questions. I'll do my best to dig up an answer.
For now, here's an answer to my daughter's latest stumper, "Do dolphins sweat?"
The answer is a simple, No. Dolphins, like most animals, don't have sweat glands. So they can't sweat. They have to stay in the water to keep cool and to keep their temperatures within a normal range. Dolphins stay cool by releasing heat through their flippers.
One of the biggest dangers for stranded dolphins is overheating in the sun. Dolphins may be able to stay out of the water for hours if they are kept wet and cool.
This also explains why dolphins and other marine mammals are so threatened by climate change. If the temperature of the water goes up, even by a degree or two, dolphins have no way to stay cool. Whales, dolphins and porpoises have some capacity to adapt to their changing environment, but they may not be able to adjust at the same fast pace that sea temperatures are rising.
So, there you have it ... the answer to today's kid stumper. Got a stumper of your own? Submit it in the comments below!
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