How do dolphins communicate?
Dolphins have incredibly high levels of intelligence. One of the reasons we consider them to be intelligent is the way in which they interact with each other in a social context. They form close relationships with other dolphins and the way in which they communicate is absolutely vital for this. They need to be able to communicate with each other to warn against predators and let other members of the group know that they have found a source of food, as well as using communication to demonstrate aggression and anxiety.
A lot of research has been conducted into dolphin communication, but it is by no means conclusive and further investigation will be needed before we can fully understand the extent of dolphin communication. But there are things that we can be sure of. When dolphins are distressed, they let out a high-pitched whistle which will alert nearby dolphins to danger. Depending on the circumstances, nearby dolphins will either respond to this noise by repeating it or moving close towards the dolphin who whistled first.
Scientists believe that each dolphin’s whistle is unique and that it works a bit like a name in helping to distinguish who is speaking. It has also been proven that dolphins use this whistling noise when they are hunting prey. They start by approaching a shoal of fish from different angles and trapping them within an enclosed circle. If the shoal starts to move one way or another, the dolphins use the whistling noise to alert each other to movements of the fish and to keep synchronized in the counter-movements. This constant communication is very important in order to maximize the efficiency of the hunting process. The communication also makes it possible for one or more dolphins to take it in turns feeding from the shoal whilst the others keep the fish in place.
The whistling also attracts more dolphins to the feeding ground as they are alerted that there is a food source nearby. It is also an important protection against predators. The more dolphins there are in one group, the more likely it is that they will be able to fight off any enemies that come their way.
The clicking and buzzing noises which are generally associated with dolphin communication are usually reserved for use in confrontation situations. They are a way of demonstrating aggression towards one another. They are used to mark a particular pod’s territory and males tend to make this type of noise when they are fighting.Dolphin Facts | Dolphin Information | Dolphin Species | Dolphins FAQ