Dolphins generally give birth to just one baby at a time, which is referred to as a calf. Unlike many animals, dolphins rarely have multiple births. After enduring a gestation period of 9 to 17 months, expectant dolphins part from their pod mates to deliver their offspring alone, typically near the surface of the surrounding water.
Dolphins, unlike many animals and birds, do not usually have specific mating seasons. Instead, they mate year-round and produce offspring throughout the year. Higher rates of dolphin births occur in the spring and fall months. Expectant mothers migrate to the surface to deliver their calves, as the offspring need to breathe air quickly after the delivery. After successfully giving birth, dolphins nurse their calves for a long time, typically between 11 months and two years. Even after ceasing to nurse, a dolphin calf stays with its mother for several years and may remain at her side up to the age of eight.
Although all dolphin species share similar breeding and reproductive characteristics, they vary widely in habitat and physical appearance. Some dolphins prefer freshwater habitats, such as rivers and streams, while others live in the ocean. They range in size from 4 to 25 feet, and can live to be more than 40 years old.