Dolphin Eavesdroppers

dolphin pod

Scientists have long known that dolphins use short, broadband pulses of sonar-like echolocation sounds to create a three-dimensional acoustic picture of their surroundings and determine the size, shape, direction of movement and distance of objects in the water. Dolphins’ sonic imaging is so sophisticated that they can tell apart 2 small disks only 1/16th inch thick of differing metals. And since sound penetrates organic matter, there are even stories of dolphins detecting—and reacting to—human pregnancies! Recent research has also proven that they’re capable of listening in on and interpreting the echoes from another individual’s clicks.

Now a study conducted by Thomas Götz, a marine biologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, takes this yet another step further. According to an article from National Geographic

Dolphins are eavesdroppers!

Götz’s study offers convincing evidence that not only are dolphins capable of understanding each other’s echolocation signals, but in fact they rely on this. The sole sound emissions of a lead dolphin are listened to & used by the all of the others when moving in tight, synchronous groups for cooperative food hunting strategies.

So, where before dolphins have always been considered playful and inquisitive animals, maybe now we know the truth behind their friendly facade… they’re just plain nosy!