Playlist shuffle: The daily acoustic repertoire of bottlenose dolphins


Anja Badenas, MSc Student on Marine Biodiversity and Conservation


Playlist shuffle: the daily acoustic repertoire of bottlenose dolphins


As mentioned on the previous post , bottlenose dolphins rely on sound production for orientation, feeding and communication with con-specifics. It is therefore of great importance to study their vocalization repertoire as it can provide important information on their habitat use and responses to human induced stress. Acoustic monitoring using hydrophones (underwater microphones) to record the different vocalizations naturally produced by dolphins is particularly important in coastal habitats, where dolphins may be affected by boat traffic noise and coastal construction.


Spectogram showing different bottlenose dolphin vocalizations.BP = burst pulse, W=whistle, LFN=Low frequency narrowband sounds. (from Gridley et al. 2015).

At Sea Search we are studying the acoustic repertoire of bottlenose dolphins from Walvis Bay, Namibia. We usually record dolphins during our photo-Id surveys in Walvis Bay, making good use of our time on the water to learn more about the dolphins in this area. Bottlenose dolphins produce different types of sounds such as echolocation clicks, burst pulses, pops and whistles and they present different behaviors when at sea such as travelling, socializing, resting or feeding. We are currently investigating how dolphins alter the production of their sounds under different behavioral contexts, group composition and tour boat activity. We hope this will provide more information on the role of these sounds in the dolphin’s daily activities, as well as provide information important for acoustic monitoring, such as production rates.

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Keep up with us to know how the “dolphin language” varies 
If you want to hear how bottlenose dolphins “speak” to each other don’t hesitate to play the sound clip below.




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About seasearchafrica

The Sea Search group is a collective of scientists and students with a strong academic background in the area of marine mammal science. Our primary focus is the production of peer-reviewed scientific research and student training. We also provide specialist consultancy services and work with industry and government to promote conservation through effective management.

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