- News Home
27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
Until recently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) kept its plans for its $70 million portion of the...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
- About Us
Dolphins Echo Each Other's Whistles
24 August 2000 7:00 pm
A captive bottlenose dolphin develops its own distinctive whistle during the first few months of life. The animals can easily reproduce each other's signatures, and they often do this so-called whistle-matching when out of sight from one another. But no one knew whether whistle-matching was something dolphins did only in captivity.
To eavesdrop on dolphins in the wild, behavioral ecologist Vincent Janik of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts analyzed recordings from an array of underwater microphones in Scotland's Moray Firth. And whistle-match the dolphins did. Because Janik recorded from many points in the firth, he could pinpoint the source of the whistles. If a dolphin sang a matching whistle within 3 seconds of another's call, Janik counted that as a response. If the whistles were far enough away that one dolphin couldn't have swum from one site to another in the time between the whistles, Janik knew they were made by two different dolphins. On average, given the interactions that fit the definition, dolphins mimicked each other from about 179 meters away, Janik reports in the 25 August issue of Science.
That the wild dolphins whistle-match, Janik says, "is a clear indication that they address each other individually." Christopher Clark, a bioacoustician at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, agrees: "This is some of the first information about how dolphins are communicating in natural, wild populations." And it may not be just simple call and response, he adds. "I don't think dolphins just go around saying, 'peanut butter,' 'peanut butter;' 'rhubarb,' 'rhubarb;' 'jelly,' 'jelly.'" Instead, Clark considers whistle-matching a prelude to more complicated conversation.