Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dolphin Speak

bottlenose dolphin
Bottlenose Dolphin by US Fish and Wildlife Service (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons
Anyone who's kept up with dolphin research probably won't be surprised to hear that they actually have names for each other. Of course, their names don't sound anything like "Flipper" since dolphins use whistles as part of their communication. You can hear examples of these dolphin calls on the Voices in the Sea website, which also has a collection of calls by other cetaceans. News reports recently have revealed the new research that has come to light about dolphin communication.
Almost anyone growing up in the 60's and 70's likely was entranced by dolphins since they figured so prominently in TV shows and movies, as well as literature. As a child, I recall reading Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke, about an orphan boy who is rescued by dolphins, or the "People of the Sea."  And who doesn't remember back in the 70's, the rather oddly compelling movie, "Day of the Dolphin" which depicted dolphins mimicking human speech. Much of the literature and media was influenced by John C. Lilly, whose research on dolphins revealed the depth of their intelligence and socialization. Humans throughout history have connected with dolphins and admired their beauty and ability to form relationships with humans.
dolphin sculpture ancient greece
Dolphin sculpture - Greece, 300 B.C. - A.D. 100,  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, public domain

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