Photo by Andrea Izzotti
Forget about Shark Week! We’d rather highlight a delightful creature closer to home. So many of our guests fall in love with our bottlenose dolphin, and it’s easy to understand why.
We thought it would be fun to re-run our series detailing surprising similarities between humans and dolphins, based on interesting information found in USA Today and on smithsonianmag.com. We’ve long known about their playfulness, intelligence, and social skills, but other discoveries have certainly been surprising.
For instance, did you know:
1. We call each other by name.
Researchers believe pregnant dolphins sing their names to their unborn, just as assuredly human moms-to-be do to their unborn. The mother imparts her name through a signature whistle and increases its use two weeks before birth, which scientists believe starts the learning process for the calf in the womb.
2. We spend a lot of time playing.
People of a certain age remember the frolicking dolphin Flipper on the television series of the same name. And while TV watchers were entertained by the dolphin’s antics, researchers believe not all of it is intended to be playful. They think these behaviors have a purpose. Dolphins racing after each other might mean they are fighting. Leaping out of the water at high speeds could mean the dolphins are coming to the surface to breathe. Leaping also may be a faster way to travel. Even so, dolphins do exhibit certain play patterns, like riding waves close to boats, passing seaweed from one to the other, and capturing and releasing other marine life.
3. We talk in dialects.
Scientists have discovered that dolphins, like humans, speak in dialects. Researchers in Ireland analyzed about 2,000 dolphin whistles in the Shannon Estuary and Cardigan Bay in Wales and determined that the whistle forms in each place were not the same, strongly suggesting the dolphins spoke in a local dialect. Dolphins use echolocation — various sounds used to find prey, locate other dolphins, and track predators.
Stay tuned for more delightful dolphin facts this week!