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How Do Dolphins Communicate?

Do dolphins talk to each other? It seems they do! Scientists all over the world have been studying dolphins for years, learning about the way they communicate with one another. In Hawaii, an experiment was performed between a mother dolphin and her young boy. Placed in two separate water tanks and connected via a special telephone, the two dolphins clearly communicated, chattering away with one another. This signifies that each dolphin has a recognisable “voice”.

Just Like Us

Dolphins are mammals, and have many similarities to humans. Like humans, dolphins are social creatures, and are typically found in pods, swimming and hunting alongside other dolphins. They also appear to communicate with each other. Beginning when they are born, dolphins vocalise using squeaks, whistles, clicks, and other sounds. Researchers often observe dolphins “chattering” and being answered by another dolphin, indicating they are engaged in some sort of dialogue. At times, dolphins in the same pod make the same sounds in unison, further pointing to a communicative connection. In addition to vocalising, dolphins appear to communicate nonverbally through body language, blowing bubbles, and rubbing fins.

How do Dolphins Produce Sound?

Humans produce sound by pushing air through our larynx, which vibrates our vocal folds. Researchers believe dolphins vocalise through the movement of air in their nasal passages. Dolphin sounds have a whole range of frequencies, volumes, and patterns, including trills, clicks, buzzing, and squeaking. One very unique dolphin form of communication is the whistle. Each bottlenose dolphin appears to have a “signature” whistle which is uniquely theirs and used to identify them. From birth, a mother dolphin whistles her own pattern continuously to her baby, perhaps to help him memorise her whistle. Each dolphin’s whistle is so unique that dolphin researchers have been able to measure the particular sound waves on a sonogram. This depicts how each individual dolphin’s whistle takes on a different pattern.


Another fascinating form of dolphin communication is their use of echolocation. Echolocation is still a very complex area of study, as is the entire realm of dolphin communication. What information we do have is that dolphins utilise high frequency clicks while in the water. These clicks produce sound waves which move outward from the dolphin, and bounce off nearby objects, sending information back to the dolphin about the location, size, shape, and more of surrounding objects. Echolocation provides the dolphin with an ability to measure his or her location and assess the presence of nearby structures, including potential predators or food sources. Echolocation helps the dolphin learn what sound patterns are returned from their common prey, effectively assisting them in their future search for food.

Amazing Creatures

There’s no doubt about it, bottlenose dolphins are amazing creatures. Hop on board a dolphin cruise with Jervis Bay Wild, and get a glimpse of these sleek and friendly mammals up close. Our dolphin cruises regularly spot dozens of Jervis Bay’s resident dolphins, and they often swim right up next to our boat, racing us in the surf. If you are looking for an unforgettable wildlife encounter, contact us today and ask about our fun dolphin eco cruise.

How Do Whales Communicate?

Just like dolphins, whales use different sounds to communicate. There are two primary types of whales that emit different sounds, and these are toothed whales and baleen whales.

Toothed whales communicate using high-frequency clicks and whistles. Single click sounds are used mainly for echolocation while multiple clicks are used to communicate with other whales and even dolphins in the area. When they are in a large pod, each whale has a different pitch and speed for them to identify who is speaking.

Baleen whales use low-frequency sounds, and these can be heard over long distances. Some species such as the humpback and blue whale produce melodic tunes which are referred to by scientists as whale songs.

Whales also use spyhopping to keep them alert of their surroundings and tail slapping to show aggression or warn other whales of potential threats.

Keen to experience these magnificent creatures face to face? Our Whale Eco Cruise gives you the opportunity to view the majestic beauty of migrating Humpback Whales in the pristine settings of Jervis Bay.