Whistle Matching in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

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Science  25 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5483, pp. 1355-1357
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5483.1355

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Dolphin communication is suspected to be complex, on the basis of their call repertoires, cognitive abilities, and ability to modify signals through vocal learning. Because of the difficulties involved in observing and recording individual cetaceans, very little is known about how they use their calls. This report shows that wild, unrestrained bottlenose dolphins use their learned whistles in matching interactions, in which an individual responds to a whistle of a conspecific by emitting the same whistle type. Vocal matching occurred over distances of up to 580 meters and is indicative of animals addressing each other individually.

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