Dispelling The Myth: Are Dolphins Blind?

are dolphins blind

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Dolphins are remarkable creatures that are well-known for their intelligence, curiosity, and playful nature.

They’re found in all seven oceans around the world and vary in size depending on the species, with the largest of all dolphin species growing to around 8m in length.

Many people believe that dolphins have poor eyesight, with some people even going as far as stating that dolphins are blind.

Today, we’re going to delve into the truth about dolphins’ vision and finally answer the age-old question. Are dolphins blind?

Get ready to delve deeper into the world of dolphins and learn more about their vision and how they see.

Are Dolphins Blind?

There’s a big misconception that dolphins are totally blind, which is linked to the fact that they have other senses such as echolocation that they use for hunting.

However, a dolphin’s vision is crucial for its survival and they rely on it heavily every single day.

To answer this question, no, dolphins are not blind. In fact, many species of dolphin have excellent vision both in and out of the water that they use for hunting prey and avoiding predators.

Dolphins actually have EXCELLENT vision among other senses such as touch, taste, hearing, and smell.

are dolphins blind
Photo by Louan García

Whilst dolphins also do use echolocation to find their prey, their vision plays a key role in how they hunt, especially in low-light conditions.

In fact, a dolphin’s retinas contain both rod cells and code cells which enables them to see in both dim and bright light.

It’s important to note that the Ganges river dolphin that lives in freshwater is essentially blind, and relies on other senses to hunt.

This species uses ultrasonic sounds which bounce off fish and other prey to enable them to “see” where the animal is.

These dolphins live in murky waters with poor visibility, so sight is essentially useless and offers no advantage for them.

Do Dolphins Have Eyes?

Yes, dolphins do have eyes. They have one eye at each side of their head that allows them to have a near 360-degree field of vision.

Their eyes are relatively small in comparison to the size of their body, so they’re pretty hard to see unless you’re up close to the animal.

Dolphins not only have eyes, but they have powerful eyes that enable them to see very well both in and out of the water.

They’ve adapted over millions of years to use sight as a big part of their survival strategy, and it works very well.

Do Dolphins Have Good Eyesight?

Yes, most species of dolphins have remarkable eyesights that is MUCH better than that of most other marine species.

This gives them an advantage when hunting, as they’re able to spot prey or predators before being spotted themselves.

Dolphins have a uniquely shaped lens that enables them to focus underwater, as well as a layer of tissue behind their retina that reflects light and helps to enhance their vision.

The lenses and cornea in dolphins’ eyes naturally autocorrect for the difference between light underwater and above the surface.

Their eyes are perfectly adapted to seeing in low-light conditions which is useful when they dive deep to hunt prey.

These aquatic acrobats are able to see some color, but it’s mostly limited to blues and greens because they don’t have many color-detecting cells.

Dolphins only have one type of cone cell for seeing in color, whereas humans have three which gives us the ability to detect many more colors.

As a whole, dolphins do have pretty good eyesight which gives them the upper hand when living in the ocean.

Whilst it’s certainly not as strong as some animals, their eyesight is more than enough to see them avoid predators and source prey.

How Far Can Dolphins See?

The distance that a dolphin can see depends on a number of factors including the clarity of the water, the dolphin’s health, and the size and shape of the object.

However, most dolphins have VERY good vision up until around 150 meters (492 feet), so this is where their echolocation comes in to help them “see” at a distance.

are dolphins blind
Photo by Fabrizio Frigeni

In low light, this distance may be reduced to around 30 – 50 meters, but their near-360 vision means they can see almost everything around them at all times.

Whilst dolphins primarily use echolocation to locate prey, their eyesight still plays a significant role and helps them to observe their surroundings and communicate with one another.

Wrapping Up

In summary, NO, dolphins are certainly not blind. In fact, most species have VERY good vision that contributes to how they hunt prey.

Whilst there are some species that don’t have great vision, such as the Ganged river dolphin and Amazon river dolphin, these dolphins use different methods to “see”.

Freshwater dolphins don’t have anywhere near as good vision as species that live in the ocean, but this is because they don’t need to.

Instead of vision, they use echolocation to “see” as the freshwater they live in is often murky and unclear.

I hope this post has helped provide insights (excuse the pun) into the world of dolphins and their vision.

See you in the next one!