Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dolphins Can Talk

There are days that go by when the news is full on nothing but the usual stupid celebrity tricks and political tedium. And there are other days when all kinds of interesting things are being reported. The past couple days are among the latter.

The Telegraph (UK) reported tomorrow about the latest in dolphin research.

Dolphins have their own language, according to a scientist who has identified almost 200 different sounds they make.

Liz Hawkins, of the Whale Research Centre in Australia, spent three years listening to bottlenose dolphins living off the west coast of the country and recorded a total of 1,647 whistles from 51 different pods of dolphins.

When a pod was travelling, for example, 57 per cent of the whistles they used were "sine" whistles, rising and falling symmetrically.

When the dolphins were feeding or resting, however, they did not make nearly as many of that type of whistle.

While socialising, they used almost exclusively flat-toned or rising whistles.

Dr Hawkins also identified a whistle that the dolphins used while riding on the waves created by her boat, which she said could be the equivalent of a child going "wheeee!"

It's good to know that dolphins are communicating with each other. And having fun. Maybe it will turn out that Douglas Adams was right, and the dolphins were in charge all along.

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