Friday Fun: Dolphins Play with Air Bubble Rings

Posted on June 12, 2009  Comments (12)

Bubbles in water

The bubble is the most stable situation for an amount of gas phase in water (liquid phase). A surface tension is associated with the surface between the gas phase and the liquid phase, the surface tension tends to minimize the surface area. This is also described in the section on bubbles in bubble models. Given a volume of gas, the sphere (bubble) shape is the shape that has the smallest surface area with respect to the containing volume.

The situation of a bubble in water is comparable to a balloon. The balloon surface is elastic. The tension of it tries to minimize the surface: if you don’t tie a knot in the balloon after blowing it up, air escapes and the surface of the balloon is minimized to the initial unstretched situation.

Bubbles do not turn into rings naturally. Something has to be done for that. However, they have long lives and often make it up to the surface. Hence they are stable structures.

Dolphins create bubble rings by blowing air in a water vortex ring: by flipping a fin they create a vortex ring of water. The then blow air in the ring, which goes to the center of the vortex ring. In the water vortex ring the natural location of the air is in the center of the vortex. When air and water move in a circular path like they do in the vortex ring, air and water are separated due to the centripetal force. Since density of water is larger than air, water moves at the outside, while the air ends up in the middle.

Follow the link for much more on the physics of bubble rings.

Related: Colored BubblesDolphins Using Tools to HuntDo Dolphins Sleep?posts on animals

12 Responses to “Friday Fun: Dolphins Play with Air Bubble Rings”

  1. shelly
    June 12th, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

    i love this video! so adorable 🙂

  2. stan
    June 12th, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

    nice post..right..dolphins is smart also have a lot of benefit for human being.

  3. Anonymous
    June 17th, 2009 @ 12:28 am

    The situation of a bubble in water is comparable to a balloon.

  4. Anonymous
    June 18th, 2009 @ 5:20 am

    They say that a dolphin is one of the most intelligence mammals, It look like the dolphin is studying the bubble.

  5. Tom Nicholson
    June 18th, 2009 @ 10:26 am

    Thanks for the info! anyways i like dolphin a lot! I remember when Three of the more than 300 melon-headed dolphins that “invaded” the waters off Pilar town in Bataan..cheer up!

  6. Carly Lucas
    June 18th, 2009 @ 11:13 am

    Dolphins are admittedly brilliant, but they’ve got nothing on par with the cuteness factor of a kitten.

  7. Anonymous
    June 19th, 2009 @ 5:11 am

    Dolphins are extremely smart. This great video goes to show why. You can’t teach just “any” animal to do this. Did you know that dolphins are so smart, the U.S. Navy actually trains them to look for mines? Great animals – great post…

  8. Cornelia Cunningham
    June 19th, 2009 @ 6:56 am

    I just adore the way dolphins behave. I would love to have a chance to get close to one.

  9. Joseph Condron
    November 8th, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

    Very interesting video showing some very complex behaviour. It is amazing just how complicated a seemingly simplistic exercise really is judging by your post.

    However, when one considers the complexities of dolphin intelligence and their capacity to learn language this shouldn’t really be surprising. I loved your explanation. I never imagined that it would be so complicated to create vortex bubbles.

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