Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:February 20th, 2013 20:56 EST

Scientists Discover Dolphins Call Each Other by Name

By John Pustelnik

Scientists have discovered that dolphins can call out to each other by using names.

When separated, dolphins were found to whistle similarly to other dolphins that wander away from the group.


"Animals produced copies (of whistles) when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal`s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual," said Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit.

Aside from humans, dolphins are the only other animal known to do this.

King and the rest of her team studied audio samples from dolphins that were collected from 1984 until 2009.

The dolphins were found to call out other dolphins names only with dolphins that shared a relationship with them.

The names were never found to be called out during aggressive or hostile situations.

As for which dolphins name who, the dolphins name themselves. Each dolphin develops a distinct way and pattern of whistling that can be used for identification.

When other dolphins call out to their loved ones, they are not simply copying the whistle of the other dolphin. When they whistle the missing dolphins name, they whistle using their own distinct way of whistling as well.

"This study provides evidence that copies of signature whistles include elements that differ from the whistles of the original whistler, while still maintaining the changes in frequency over time that allow a listener to identify the original whistler," said Heidi Harley, professor of psychology at New College of Florida.

More Information:

Image Source:

Follow theSOP on Twitter!