Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. Much of their intelligence is demonstrated through the way in which they interact with other dolphins, and dolphin communication is vital in enabling this. The relationships between individual dolphins is very important to the survival of the species. They form close bonds with other individuals and this helps to keep them safe from predators, as well as giving them partners and friends with which to play and entertain themselves. In order to form these relationships, they need to be able to communicate with one another.
Dolphin communication is still an area in which further research is needed, but there is a general understanding amongst experts about how they communicate on a basic level and the sorts of messages which they send out to each other.
If dolphins are in some sort of distress, they emit a high-pitched whistling noise to alert other dolphins nearby to the danger. A nearby dolphin will respond to this whistle either by moving towards the noise or by whistling back. Each dolphin’s whistle is unique and individual, and serves a bit like a name to help distinguish one dolphin from another. Dolphins also use this whistling noise to communicate with one another when they are hunting for food. They will approach a school of fish from different angles in order to maximize the number of fish which each dolphin is able to catch by trapping them. Dolphins will whistle at regular intervals throughout this process and they seem to be giving each other directions as to how to best round up the fish. This communication between dolphins will also alert other dolphins in the area to the fact that there is food nearby. This helps to protect them from predators, as dangerous species are likely to want to feed in the same areas. The whistling calls more dolphins to the feeding ground which gives them safety in numbers against any nearby predators.
The clicking sound which is often associated with dolphin communication is another way in which they communicate, but it tends to be reserved for confrontation. These clicks are often a sign of aggression between males of the species and are used as a warning or to mark a particular pod’s territory.
Dolphins don’t tend to use communication with body language but they do demonstrate acts of violence when confronting each other. Rolling their eyes and showing the white to another dolphin is generally regarded as another sign of aggression.