Dolphin Survives by Becoming a Mouth Breather

To survive, this dolphin is a mouth breather.  The source of the dolphins malfunctioning blowhole may be a muscle abnormality or an obstruction.  Regardless of the cause, this dolphin is thriving.  What less than ideal physiological circumstances have you overcome to thrive?

Not just a pretty face? A dolphin has learned to breathe through its mouth after developing a faulty blowhole, highlighting the animal’s ability to adapt.


Steve Dawson at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and his colleagues were studying the endangered species as part of a long-term conservation project, when they noticed unusual behaviour in one member of a group of seven.


Dolphins were not thought to be able to breathe through their mouths. To do this, a dolphin would need to move its larynx from the usual position to allow the respiratory and digestive tracts to communicate, says Dawson.


The animal probably learned to do this after its blowhole became blocked by a foreign object or injury, or because the muscles around it didn’t work properly, he says.  “We think this dolphin has found a workaround to what is most likely a pathological problem.”


Dawson’s team has now spotted the dolphin more than half a dozen times and found it to be healthy. “It’s in great condition and looks absolutely normal, except for this weird breathing behaviour,” he says. “Clearly it’s a thing that works for the animal.” read more at

Ever observed mouth-breathing people?  Chances are, like this dolphin, it’s a behavior for circumventing a less than ideal respiration.  Adapting to survive!