Dolphins Found Speaking “Whale” in Captivity

Scientists studying captive-born dolphins in France have made a surprising discovery, and according to an article on ABC News “some captive-born dolphins there have been recorded talking in their sleep”. The interesting part of the whole situation is not so much that they were “talking in their sleep”, but what they were saying. The recordings of the dolphins show that the noises they were making during the night were “virtually identical to sounds made by the humpback whale.” And to make things a little more interesting just as the findings were published, came reports from the Hawaiian islands of very interesting behavior being displayed by the same type of dolphin – the bottlenose – and humpback whales. Scientists are now wondering what made the dolphins speak “whale” in their sleep. One possibility that scientists are looking into is that the dolphins are rehearsing their show routines; the show includes a section of whale songs being played over the aquariums sound system. Scientists are wondering “why might those captive-raised dolphins, who had never been to sea and so could never have heard wild whale songs, have picked up on only the whale songs in the 21-minute show tape, and on none of the other sounds in it?” The questions seem to circle the idea that whale and dolphin language are somehow related or similar, and that maybe dolphins and whales have a natural affinity toward each other’s language. The interspecies play that was observed in the Hawaiian islands of the coast of Kauai and also Maui raise more questions for scientists about the relationship between dolphins and whales in the wild, and if dolphins actually do have a natural understanding of whales.

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