What's In A Whistle?  Name-calling In The Ocean

What’s In A Whistle? Name-calling In The Ocean

Anyone who has swum with dolphins including the members of the Open Water Swim Club know the friendly whistles of the dolphins. “As you swim parallel to shore in Huntington Beach and Bolsa Chica [in Southern California], and many other places, their unmistakable whistles and clicks can be heard much sooner than when you can see them,” says Steven Munatones who has been swimming the waters for 40 years. “They just make the ocean swims so much more fun and enjoyable. But the dolphins can get big and it is out in the ocean so when they come close, I keep my distance and never try to pet them. They are so fast and can maneuver so quickly, just watching them watch us with their big eyes is a great treat every time they swim by us.”

Science Now reported that every dolphin has its own high-pitched whistle and an analysis of whistles recorded from hundreds of wild bottlenose dolphins confirms that the dolphins have names (whistles) for each other.

Even infant dolphins learn their individual whistles from their mothers and males friendly with each other copy each others’s signature whistles.

It’s a wonderful study, really solid,” says Peter Tyack, a marine mammal biologist at the University of St. Andrews. “Having the ability to learn another individual’s name is … not what most animals do.”

To hear some dolphin whistles, visit here.

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