lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

D is for Dolphin

Hands up who doesn’t like dolphins? They are one of the best-loved creatures on the planet – maybe for their intelligence, maybe their friendliness – maybe for their smile. Here is my dolphin poem on the Forward Arts Foundation website:

I’ve made this poem into a shape, which you can see here – not terribly good quality as I had to make the background transparent to enable blue to show through on the jpeg… and making words transparent is a tricky job!:

blue pdf

Dolphins are intelligent. One of the ways scientists test for levels of intelligence is by finding out if an animal has a sense of ‘self’. Do they recognise their reflection in a mirror is themselves, or another dolphin? Dolphins have a sense of self.

They learn very quickly, and what is more can pass that learning on.

A dolphin that was dubbed ‘Billie’ became trapped in a sealock. She was rescued, rehabilitated and released just three weeks later.

In that three weeks she observed captive dolphins ‘tail walking’. On release she proceeded to try it out for herself, and then taught tail walking to her wild dolphin friends.

Dolphins are air breathing mammals, and must surface to breathe. So while they rest, only one half of their brain sleeps at a time – the other half stays alert to remember to breathe. For this reason also, dolphins do not automatically breathe like us. It must be under their control, otherwise they’d risk breathing underwater at the wrong time.

They also cooperate with each other to catch food – they ‘herd’ fish shoals by surrounding them, and then take turns to eat – only when the last dolphin has eaten do they swim away.

Scientists have been amazed by some of the dolphins in one school that herd mullet, a type of fish, in towards the local fishermen.

When the fish are there the dolphins slap the water with their tails to let them know they are ready to be netted. The dolphins gain nothing from this. Why do they do it? Just one of many mysteries!

Dolphins are also gentle and altruistic – they stay with sick and injured dolphins and help them to the surface to breathe. They will even slow down their swimming to allow an older dolphin to keep up.

They are empathetic. It has been recorded on many occasions that dolphins have helped human swimmers up to the surface to breathe.

And lastly for today (although the wonder of dolphins could be expanded into many pages!), each dolphin has their own, unique name, which they make up themselves by their call. They call each other by these names and they respond. It is how they keep in touch as they swim along.

Scientists once played the calls of a group of wild dolphins to a group of captive dolphins from the same group. The captive dolphins became very excited by the speaker in the pool that was playing the names of their old friends. They approached the speaker one by one and called their own names back.

I find this very moving.

We should never keep dolphins captive.

The WDC campaigns to end the captivity of whales and dolphins. This is their website: WDC

If you’d like to make a shape with words, try the Tagxedo website. It’s great fun. This is one I made from the above poem:


Poems © Liz Brownlee

Information from WDC, OneKind and Dolphins World.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. Very informative and the poem is beautiful. I knew they called to each other, but I didn’t realise they had individual names. Fascinating creatures!


    • They are, I think they are a lot more intelligent than we can know.


  2. Thanks for the Tagxedo link! I’ll try it out. And no, I’m no exception, I really do like dolphins.

    A2Z challenge. Participant number 1431


  3. Beuutiifullllll
    Loved it


  4. Suzy

    Your dolphin is lovely – so creative and clever. Dolphins are awesome. They always look happy.
    Dropping by from the AtoZ
    Suzy at Someday Somewhere


    • Hello, Suzy! Thank you!


    • Loved your story, Suzy, I have not heard of the Ramayana before! I’m afraid your type of blog is one I can’t comment on, but it’s called Suzy at Someday Somewhere if anyone is interested!


  5. Ann

    Dolphins are fun to observe but much prefer to see film of wild ones to the live antics o captive dolphins.
    I love the shape poems you are using. I used to enjoy doing them with children in my teaching days when even reluctant writers found them fun to try.


    • That interesting, Ann, about the children. And thank you.


  6. What a great post and poem. I love what you did with the shape…very creative. Dolphins really are amazing animals. I didn’t know that they had individual names either!


    • Thanks, Tracy! I write a lot of shape poems, I really enjoy it.


  7. Jemima Pett

    That’s amazing! The poem as well as the shape. I wondered how you’d done it, thanks for the explanation.

    I was just watching a tv programme (Coast Australia) showing a new species of dolphin discovered only a couple of years ago. You’d think we’d know all our big marine mammals by now, wouldn’t you? It is, of course, under threat, but mainly due to its restricted range.



    • Hi Jemima. I didn’t use Tagzedo to make the dolphin poem, I did that myself on Word. The Tagzedo app only jumbles words into a shape, which is still fun to do though. It does seem incredible doesn’t it that there are still creatures to be found. But there are. About 300 million insects!


      • Jemima Pett

        S’ok Liz, I realised… I discovered how to cut out backgrounds on Paint Shop Pro last month; doing it on Word seems even trickier.


      • Hair tearing, Jemima! I did it on photoshop, then made a PDf from word, then made a jpeg from the PDF, but for some reason the PDFs lose the background colour so had to make a postscript file and do the PDf from that and then the jpeg. It’s wonder I’m still sane.


  8. Nadine

    What a beautiful way to make a poem! So clever. I was also drawn to the story of a captive dolphin, now free, teaching its dolphin friends to tail walk. They are so intelligent!


    • Thanks, Nadine, they are indeed. And so beautiful.


  9. My students (K – 5th) LOVE dolphins – books are always checked out of the library! Love your poems, info and Taxedo link – we get so into the new apps out there that we forget about the tried and true!


    • Hello, Sue! Dolphins seem to touch something in us don’t they? I write for children mainly and do a lot of work in schools.


  10. Beautiful poem as usual , Liz, and a wealth of information too. Decades ago, before I knew better, I stroked a dolphin at the aquarium where a friend worked. The smoothest softest skin I have ever touched.


    • Thanks, and how wonderful, Liz. Lets hope soon all intelligent creatures like dolphins will be set free.


  11. I believe that dolphins are even a higher form than us because of all that you have mentioned and they are peaceful which we still have not learned. This does not mean they don’t defend themselves and don’t eat but they don’t kill for the sake of killing, they don’t bully or ostracise another. We need to learn from them. I had heard, last year about someone in Australia who was going to be attacked by a shark but these 2 dolphins came in and one went to her and brought her to shore while the other distracted the shark. Amazing


    • Hi, Birgit. It is very humbling to know there are wild animals that are prepared to help us despite our planet-trashing habits.


  12. Gorgeous post Liz. Educational too. Thank you.


  13. Ula

    I love this post and what a beautiful poem. Kudos for making into the shape of a dolphin. This is a wonderful and informative post. I just had to click over when I saw the word dolphin as dolphins are my spirit animals. I have a feeling they are smarter than humans.

    Also, if I remember correctly, we are close to understanding their language. I wonder what we’ll learn from them once we can understand them and thus communicate with them.


    • Hi, Ula – that will certainly be an interesting day!


  14. That was fascinating, thanks for sharing.


  15. Thank you for sharing, that was lovely.


  16. That was lovely, thank you.


  17. I am really enjoying your A to Z posts, and I am so glad that I found your blog through the Challenge. You are teaching me so much!


  18. anniediw

    Lurking because by the time I get here, everyone else seems to have said everything. 🙂
    I so love the poems and the work that has gone into making that shape is staggering. Thanks for everything you are doing to help us understand more about the natural life around us. Think it’s those big eyes and the attempts to communicate that make me love dolphins.

    Anne at http://www, A to Z challenge


    • anniediw

      never seem to manage to get my link quite right. Trying again…


    • Thank you Annie! Every comment is most welcome, even if it is similar, it means I’m doing something right!


  19. Corinne O'Flynn

    That was beautiful! What a creative way to share a poem.


  20. Dolphins actually frighten me. I mean, from a distance they are beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to be in the water with one.

    N J Magas, author


  21. dcrelief

    That is beautiful!


  22. Neat poem, incredible animals


  23. Great shape poem. Love it. Dolphins are jerks though, I don’t know why so many people want to swim with them.


  24. Hi Liz, thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your comment on my SeaWorld post. I just added a link to a petition demanding an end to the captive orca breeding program, as I do think it’s important. I also didn’t mean to imply that orcas (or dolphins) should be used for human entertainment; my “not black and white” comment was in reference to the possibility that certain animals might not do well when released into the wild, which is something even the WDC is concerned about. Here’s a link to the petition, if you’d like to share it as well:


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