All About Dolphins - Page 3

Dolphin Talk

Dolphin talkBottlenose dolphins identify themselves with a signature whistle. However, scientists have found no evidence of a dolphin language. Sounds are probably produced by movements of air in the trachea and nasal sacs. During some vocalizations, Bottlenose dolphins actually release air from the blowhole, but scientists believe that these bubble trails and clouds are a visual display and not necessary for producing sound.

Bottlenose dolphins produce clicks and sounds that resemble moans, trills, grunts, squeaks, and creaking doors. They also produce whistles. They make these sounds at any time and at considerable depths. The sounds vary in volume, wavelength, frequency, and pattern. A mother dolphin may whistle to her calf almost continuously for several days after giving birth. This acoustic imprinting helps the calf learn to identify its mother.

The Senses

The dolphin's senses are very highly developed, with acute hearing, eyesight and sense of touch. Like all toothed whales dolphins have a limited sense of smell. Little is known about a dolphin's sense of taste, although they do have taste buds and show strong preferences for certain types of food fishes.

Going for a Swim

Bottlenose dolphins can often be found "surfing" on the bow of a boat.  This is done for the purpose of "hitching a ride" on the currents pushed forward by the boat and considered to be good luck by boaters around the world. The bottlenose routinely swims at speeds of about 3 to 7 miles per hour and can burst to speeds of 18 to 22 miles per hour for short periods.

Although Bottlenose dolphins generally do not need to dive very deep to catch their food, they regularly dive to depths of up to 150 feet. Under experimental conditions a deep trained dive was made to over 1,700 feet. They can dive for up to 8 to ten minutes and maintain a slower heartbeat while diving to slow the metabolism of oxygen.

Dolphins are quite acrobatic and can be seen doing complex and artful aerial maneuvers that awe spectators both in marine parks and in the wild. They are able to execute spins and flips that place them well out of the water during mating, demonstrations of hierarchical dominance or even just while being the water. Many details of this ability in dolphins have yet to be understood fully by science.