Dolphins Address One Another By Name

p125228-Cozumel-Our_dolphin_friendsTheir names, however, are whistle patterns. New Scientist reports:

Stephanie King of the University of St Andrews, UK, and colleagues monitored 179 pairs of wild bottlenose dolphins off the Florida coast between 1988 and 2004. Of these, 10 were seen copying each other’s signature whistles, which the dolphins make to identify themselves to each other.

The behavior has never been documented before, and was only seen in pairs composed of a mother and her calf or adults who would normally move around and hunt together.

The copied whistles changed frequency in the same way as real signature whistles, but either started from a higher frequency or didn’t last as long, suggesting Dave was not merely imitating Alan.

18 Comments on "Dolphins Address One Another By Name"

  1. Vigilantius | Sep 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm |

    Sorry, I’m filing this under “Scientists have observed something and then applied human behavior to what they observed and come to a conclusion based on the words “may” and “suggests.” ”

    I have no doubt that Dolphins are smarter than we are.  I am in agreement with Douglas “pretty smart for an atheist” Adams in this that being intelligent but also content to spend your life playing in the ocean and eating fish all day shows immense wisdom.  But this sort of thing just points out that a whole population of scientists have created careers for themselves where they get grant money to do research for a few years and then they have to come to a conclusion, eventually.  And we trust them because they’re scientists.

    No, we don’t know if Dolphins talk to each other by name just like we don’t know an awful lot about everything.  We all see through a glass darkly.  It is much more sane to say that MAYbe dolphins talk to each other and that they could MAYbe could have grown opposable thumbs and created a death ray out of barnacles and sea cucumbers.  Everytime we try to pin reality down, we will eventually become disappointed and confused.

    fiat lux

  2. Vigilantius | Sep 9, 2011 at 8:11 am |

    Sorry, I’m filing this under “Scientists have observed something and then applied human behavior to what they observed and come to a conclusion based on the words “may” and “suggests.” ”

    I have no doubt that Dolphins are smarter than we are.  I am in agreement with Douglas “pretty smart for an atheist” Adams in this that being intelligent but also content to spend your life playing in the ocean and eating fish all day shows immense wisdom.  But this sort of thing just points out that a whole population of scientists have created careers for themselves where they get grant money to do research for a few years and then they have to come to a conclusion, eventually.  And we trust them because they’re scientists.

    No, we don’t know if Dolphins talk to each other by name just like we don’t know an awful lot about everything.  We all see through a glass darkly.  It is much more sane to say that MAYbe dolphins talk to each other and that they could MAYbe could have grown opposable thumbs and created a death ray out of barnacles and sea cucumbers.  Everytime we try to pin reality down, we will eventually become disappointed and confused.

    fiat lux

  3. Technically, they are not actually whistling…

    http://io9.com/5838407/it-turns-out-that-dolphins-dont-whistle 

  4. Technically, they are not actually whistling…

    http://io9.com/5838407/it-turns-out-that-dolphins-dont-whistle 

  5. do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    yes its old news that dolphins are smart. now kill them all before they develop laser eyes

  6. do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    yes its old news that dolphins are smart. now kill them all before they develop laser eyes

  7. do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 11:01 am |

    yes its old news that dolphins are smart. now kill them all before they develop laser eyes

    • Anarchy Pony | Sep 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm |

      We should help them to develop laser eyes, they could solve the over fishing problem.
      Save a salmon, sink a commercial fishing trawler.

      • do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

        they would rule the high seas with an iron flipper. or titanium flipper because iron rusts 

        • Anarchy Pony | Sep 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

          Good, it could sufficiently disrupt ocean fishing and shipping to bring civilization to its knees. I for one welcome our slippery new overlords.

  8. Wanooski | Sep 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm |

    We should help them to develop laser eyes, they could solve the over fishing problem.
    Save a salmon, sink a commercial fishing trawler.

  9. Anonymous | Sep 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm |

    I thought this was old news?

    Several human languages utilise clicks and whistles, not to mention the huge variety of tonal languages.
    I don’t think this IS a case of personifying dolphin behaviour, rather, it is a case of seeing something in nature that we ourselves share.

    AND YET we kill /slaughter them…. maybe that’s why we have an obsession with sharks, we see ourselves as predatory and cannot empathise with other mammals.

  10. Jin The Ninja | Sep 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    I thought this was old news?

    Several human languages utilise clicks and whistles, not to mention the huge variety of tonal languages.
    I don’t think this IS a case of personifying dolphin behaviour, rather, it is a case of seeing something in nature that we ourselves share.

    AND YET we kill /slaughter them…. maybe that’s why we have an obsession with sharks, we see ourselves as predatory and cannot empathise with other mammals.

    • Well…we can’t all lead a porpoise driven life… 

      🙂 j/k…love dolphins…wanted to work with them when I was a kid…never got the chance. Who knows…its still on my bucket list.

  11. do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    they would rule the high seas with an iron flipper. or titanium flipper because iron rusts 

  12. do not disturb | Sep 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    they would rule the high seas with an iron flipper. or titanium flipper because iron rusts 

  13. Wanooski | Sep 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    Good, it could sufficiently disrupt ocean fishing and shipping to bring civilization to its knees. I for one welcome our slippery new overlords.

  14. Well…we can’t all lead a porpoise driven life… 

    🙂 j/k…love dolphins…wanted to work with them when I was a kid…never got the chance. Who knows…its still on my bucket list.

Comments are closed.