Why do Dolphins Jump?

“There’s no question dolphins are smarter than humans as they play more.”  -Albert Einstein 


One of our favorite things about sailing St. Pete, FL? The playful dolphins who have a habit of jumping out of the water. This is also known as a breach or bow, but why do they?   

Dolphins Jump Because… 

Dolphins are aquatic mammals that belong to the cetacean group just like whales.  The tendency to jump out of the water is a behavior most every cetacean share.  When held in captivity, jumping is behavior that yields rewards such as food.  However, in their own natural habitat, they will jump to look for food or predators.  This can also be a form of communication or aggression within their pod. 

There are several different theories as to why dolphins jump, let’s look at more!

Need for clean speed

Inhabiting the sea along with some lakes and rivers, they share their habitat with other fish and parasites.  Parasites are attracted to these warm-blooded mammals and will attach themselves to them.  Land animals will clean themselves with water and some believe dolphins use air to clean themselves.  A violent breach and splash landing can shake the parasites free.   

Dolphins are fast in the water but in the air, they are literally flying!  Seawater is about 1020kg/cubic meter dense, whereas air is 1000 times less dense.  By jumping out of the water and soaring through the air they can conserve some energy.  This allows them to keep if not speed up their momentum.  

See what to expect on the JP Cat catamaran cruise 

Can you hear me now? 

Dolphins are extremely intelligent creatures.  Communication is done within their pod by various means.  Jumping can be a form of communication in the male dolphins to show dominance.  It can also be a part of a courting ritual to win a mate.  With no cell towers underwater the jumping must be for better reception.   

You have increased visibility out of the water.  Dolphins can spot a school of fish miles away if they breach the water. They will also have a better view of any predators that may be lurking around them.  Some predators would include sharks or even humans.  The air view can also assist dolphins in finding another pod of dolphins near them. 


Now let’s be honest, we all need a little fun every now and then, well so do animals.  Many animals are playful, and dolphins are no exception.  It is possible that dolphins’ acrobatics is all about their amusement.  Many dolphins are spotted swimming along with boats or playing in the surf of the waves.  Have you ever seen a dolphin with a frown?  I think not!  They look like they are always having fun! 

See Dolphins on Our St. Pete Boat Tour 

You will be sure to catch these fun and playful beings on a day or sunset cruise with us on the JP Cat. We cruise through some of the best locations where dolphins can be seen in St. Pete, FL on the JP Cat. To see these magnificent animals in action you can call (727) 310-7883 or schedule a cruise online. Make memories on an excursion today!