What Happens to Dolphins During Hurricanes?

As Hurricane Season gets started, we wanted to answer a common question we get about the dolphins on our tours.  What happens to dolphins during hurricanes? We’ll examine some of the unique strategies dolphins take to ensure their safety during storm season.


Hurricanes are awe-inspiring displays of nature’s might, characterized by their swirling winds, torrential rains, and colossal waves. These tropical cyclones, which originate over warm ocean waters, can span hundreds of miles in diameter and unleash devastating forces upon land and sea. While we often focus on the destructive consequences of hurricanes for human communities, it is equally crucial to examine how they affect marine life, particularly the remarkable dolphins.


Dolphins, known for their intelligence and sociability, have captured the imagination of humans for centuries. These sleek and agile marine mammals belong to the family Delphinidae and are found in oceans worldwide. With their streamlined bodies, sharp intelligence, and remarkable communication skills, dolphins have evolved a set of strategies to navigate the challenges posed by hurricanes. So, what happens to dolphins during hurricanes?


As hurricanes approach, dolphins possess an extraordinary ability to sense changes in atmospheric pressure, water temperature, and other environmental cues. Their acute sensory perception enables them to detect the imminent arrival of these powerful storms. By interpreting these signals, dolphins can anticipate the approaching danger and respond accordingly.


To safeguard themselves from the fury of hurricanes, dolphins employ a variety of evacuation tactics. One such strategy involves moving to deeper waters, where the intensity of the storm’s impact is significantly reduced. By swimming to greater depths, dolphins can avoid the destructive surface waves and turbulent currents, finding refuge in calmer waters below.


Dolphins are highly social creatures, living in tightly knit groups known as pods. This social cohesion plays a crucial role in their survival during hurricanes. As the storm approaches, dolphins within a pod work together, displaying remarkable coordination and communication. By staying close to one another, they provide protection and support, ensuring the safety of each pod member.


Over countless generations, dolphins have developed a range of adaptations that enable them to withstand the challenges posed by hurricanes. Their streamlined bodies and powerful tails allow them to navigate swiftly through turbulent waters, minimizing the risk of being swept away by strong currents. Additionally, their thick blubber layer provides insulation and buoyancy, aiding their ability to weather the storm.


While dolphins primarily dwell in the open ocean, they are resourceful in seeking shelter during hurricanes. They often utilize natural features such as reefs, coves, or even the leeward side of islands to find temporary respite from the storm’s onslaught. These sheltered areas offer protection from the harsh winds and turbulent waves, allowing dolphins to conserve energy and ride out the tempest.


Following the passage of a hurricane, dolphins exhibit remarkable resilience in their recovery efforts. They possess a strong homing instinct that guides them back to familiar territories once the storm has subsided. By relying on their acute sense of navigation, dolphins can navigate through altered landscapes and reunite with their pods, rebuilding their social structures and resuming their normal behaviors.


The study of dolphins and hurricanes extends beyond the realm of marine biology. It also holds implications for human understanding and resilience in the face of natural disasters. By observing the strategies employed by dolphins to survive hurricanes, we can glean valuable insights and potentially apply them.  At Blue Wave adventures, we support many non-profits, both locally and internationally that help to study, learn, preserve and protect our amazing sea friends and their eco-systems.  We would love for you to join us on one of our dolphin cruise excursions to learn more about ways you can help preserve and protect them as well!

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