The Dolphin, marvel of the sea
Dolphin is probably derived from the Greek where δελφύς (delphus) means "womb". So the Greeks saw the dolphin as a creature from the sea with a womb. Dolphins are nearest to human in encephalization, a kind of index used by behavioral biologists to compare intelligence across different species of mammals. Meaning that of al mammals. including the chimpanzee the brain size of dolphins corrected for body mass is nearest to that of Homo sapiens.
The most common species of dolphins are the spinner dolphin ( Stenella longirostris) and the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops), often hold in captivity to amuse the public. The spinner dolphin with its pointed snout is found in off-shore tropical waters around the world. It is famous for its acrobatic displays in which it spins along its longitudinal axis as it leaps through the air. The bottlenose is bigger and more common, an often swims in small groups or pods that can mix with other pods. Other species are the common dolphin (with two subspecies, Delphinus capensis and Delphinus delphis) the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) and the spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata).
Dolphins are smart in locating their prey with their echolocation system. When a school of fish like sardines is located, they trap them and take turns swimming through the school and just gulp away. Places in the Red Sea were underwater photographers have a good chance of meeting dolphins are Eilat in Israel, Samadai Reef and the Sataya lagoon, not so far from Marsa Alam in the southern Red Sea. Unfortunately, the boats that line up in Sataya and their numerous visitors may spoil the opportunity to get really close to the dolphin pods, often consisting of spinner dolphins.
Dolphins have stimulated human fantasy and need for symbolism since ancient times. There are often described as a mystical creatures that combine two worlds, that of man and fish, somewhat like mermaids. The goddess Aphrodite is often depicted with dolphins, riding or being accompanied by them. Dolphins were also messengers of Poseidon the mighty god of the Sea, bringing him lovely nymphs to inspect. And they were seen as rescuers of humans. Old Roman mosaics often show dolphins, either in isolation or with gods riding them (see my picture of a mosaic taken In Ostia Antiqua in Rome).
Sadly, in some places of the world like the Faroe islands and Japan dolphins are still hunted down and killed by for human consumption. Which is almost like cannibalism. A cruel and frequently criticized method is drive fishing, a merciless method of driving dolphins together with boats into a bay or onto a beach and then slaughter them down. You can witness that in the dreadful documentary The Cove.