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Cooperative Dolphins That Hunt Alongside Humans Develop Different Way of Communicating

Source: Hakai Magazine/Alexander Deedy - November 9, 2017 in Science/Tech

Cooperative Dolphins That Hunt Alongside Humans Develop Different Way of Communicating
Photo: Dominic Sherony/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In Laguna, Brazil, fishermen get help from a wild partner. Local bottlenose dolphins have learned to herd mullet into shallow water and to signal fishermen so they know when to cast their nets. After signaling, the dolphins wait with their mouths agape, ready to catch mullet not snagged in the nets. Only some dolphins participate in this cooperative hunting, and as new research shows, these helpful animals have other behaviors that are distinct from their less-friendly fellows.

A team of researchers from Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Catarina recently discovered that not only do the cooperative dolphins have tighter social bonds and spend more time with each other than with non-cooperative dolphins, they also vocalize differently. Specifically, the dolphins that forage with fishermen generally emit whistles that are shorter, have higher frequencies, and have more inflections than those of non-cooperative dolphins.

There are numerous examples of dolphins throughout the world forming distinct social groups or developing new foraging techniques.

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