Dolphins’ Unique Whistles Issue Social Call
When meeting strangers in the wild, dolphins whistle signature tunes that may be the animal equivalent of “Hello, my name is…” stickers. These signature whistles have been observed in captive dolphins for decades, but new research is the first to reveal how these sea mammals use the sounds when one pod meets another in the ocean.
The dolphin calls are important because dolphins are one of the few animals that makeup new sounds, the researchers said. Social primates know each other from the sounds of their voices, but they don’t create signature identification calls. Dolphins, on the other hand, start developing their own whistles at just a few months of age. They’re also verbally adept, capable of mimicking the songs of other animals and even using particular sounds to refer to specific objects in captivity, almost as if they’re using words.