Dolphins in the News

Dolphin which learnt 'to walk on its tail' in captivity teaches nine others the trick in the wild (and her imitation skills could save the species from climate change)   Daily Mail - August 28, 2018
Dolphins can learn from each other to walk on their tail and this intelligence could help save the species from climate change, a new study found. Scientists say a dolphin who learned the complex trick in captivity has taught it to nine of her friends and family since she was released into the wild. It marks the only known example of a mammal teaching human tricks to its peers in the wild without any help from a human trainer. The skill allows dolphins to adapt new behavior faster than they would through natural selection, potentially giving them the edge over rapid changes to their environment caused by global warming.

Ancient 'Strange-Face' Dolphin Used Its Snout to Vacuum Up Food   Live Science - August 23, 2017
A now-extinct dwarf dolphin whose name means "weaponless-snouted strange face" may have once used its toothless mouth to suck up fish and squid, a new study finds.The finding suggests that modern dolphins and whales developed bizarre forms of feeding within only a few million years after they evolved, the researchers said. Divers hunting for shark teeth found the skull fossil of a dolphin at the bottom of the Wando River near Charleston, South Carolina. Based on the layers of sandy limestone in which the bone was discovered, the scientists determined that the fossil is about 28 million to 30 million years old.

  Dolphins may have a spoken language, new research suggests   CNN - September 13, 2016
A conversation between dolphins may have been recorded by scientists for the first time, a Russian researcher claims. Two adult Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, named Yasha and Yana, didn't interrupt each other during an interaction taped by scientists and may have formed words and sentences with a series of pulses, Vyacheslav Ryabov says in a new paper. Essentially, this exchange resembles a conversation between two people. Further research is needed.

Are dolphins psychic? Their complex social intelligence suggests the animals may share a 'collective consciousness'   Daily Mail - September 17, 2015
Dolphins have long been considered to be intelligent, but scientists are only now starting to unravel the true complexity of their brains and behavior. In many ways they behave like humans - they form social groups and cliques, they have previously been taught to recognize 'alphabets' of symbols and many have even attempted to befriend us.Now, a book discusses how this high level of intelligence could stem from the mammals having what's known as a collective consciousness, with the author claiming they may know something that we don't.

Dolphins are attracted to magnets   PhysOrg - September 29, 2014
Dolphins are indeed sensitive to magnetic stimuli, as they behave differently when swimming near magnetized objects. Magnetoreception implies the ability to perceive a magnetic field. It is supposed to play an important role in how some land and aquatic species orientate and navigate themselves. Some observations of the migration routes of free-ranging cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises, and their stranding sites suggested that they may also be sensitive to geomagnetic fields.

Checking the Claim: A Device That Translates Dolphin Sounds Into English   Smithsonian - April 13, 2014
Researchers used new technology to interpret a dolphin noise they say translates loosely to "seaweed".

Brazil dolphin is first new river species since 1918   BBC - January 22, 2014
Scientists in Brazil have discovered the first new river dolphin species since the end of World War One. Named after the Araguaia river where it was found, the species is only the fifth known of its kind in the world. Researchers say it separated from other South American river species more than two million years ago. There are believed to be about 1,000 of the creatures living in the Araguaia river basin. River dolphins are among the world's rarest creatures.

Researchers reveal new New Zealand fossil dolphin   PhysOrg - January 22, 2014
A newly recognized fossil dolphin from New Zealand, dubbed Papahu taitapu, is the first of its kind ever found and may be a close relation to the ancestors of modern dolphins and toothed whales. Papahu lived 1922 million years ago, and is one of the few dolphins to be reported globally dating to the start of the Miocene epoch. Judging from the size of its skull, Papahu was about two metres long, roughly the size of a common dolphin.

DNA Discovery Reveals Surprising Dolphin Origins   National Geographic - January 11, 2014
Mating between two distinct dolphin species created the clymene dolphin, a genetics study shows. Also known as the "short-snouted spinner dolphin," the clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene) grows to nearly seven feet (2.1 meters) long and dwells in deep waters in tropical and temperate parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Evolutionary biologists have seen other such hybrid species elsewhere in the animal kingdom.

New Species of Humpback Dolphin Found in Australia   National Geographic - October 29, 2013
Hiding in plain sight, researchers have discovered a new species of humpback dolphin living off the northern coast of Australia. The discovery came when scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) tried to settle a decades-old argument among marine mammal researchers. The Atlantic humpback dolphin is considered vulnerable, and the Indo-Pacific group is considered near threatened.

Scientists gain new insights into dolphin's evolutionary history and conversation   PhysOrg - October 29, 2013
Researchers found there were many factors related with the aquatic adaptations of cetaceans, such as positively selected genes (PSGs), and some functional changes. One of the noticeable findings is that PSGs in the baiji lineage were also involved in DNA repair and response to DNA damage stimulus, which have not been reported in previous studies of mammals or dolphin. Nicknamed "Goddess of the Yangtze", the baiji was regarded as the goddess of protection by local fishermen and boatmen in China. Unfortunately, this species has suffered huge losses in recent decades largely due to the extreme pressures brought by human's activities. The baiji has become one of the most famous species in aquatic conservation. There have been many great efforts made to conserve the baiji, but most of them failed.

Dolphins have 'longest social memory' among non-humans   BBC - August 7, 2013
Forget about elephants - scientists say that dolphins have the longest memories yet found in a non-human species. Researchers in the US say that even after 20 years of separation, dolphins could recall the whistles of former companions. The authors believe that these long-term memories are a product of the complex social connections that dolphins have evolved. In the study, the scientists used information on the relationships between 56 captive bottlenose dolphins that have been moved for breeding purposes between six different zoos and aquariums in the US and Bermuda. The records, dating back decades, showed which of the dolphins had been housed together.

Deformed Dolphin Accepted Into New Family   National Geographic - January 24, 2013
In 2011, behavioral ecologists Alexander Wilson and Jens Krause of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany were surprised to discover that a group of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) - animals not usually known for forging bonds with other species - had taken in an adult bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).

  Diver who saved dolphin: 'He swam right up to me'   NBC - January 24, 2013
When a dolphin needed help off the coast of Hawaii, he was determined to let a scuba instructor know. Keller Laros was leading a group of divers on a tour of the waters off of Kona, Hawaii, on Jan. 11. He often goes on his dives with professional underwater videographers and this night was no exception. But as Laros, his camerawoman and the rest of the group began their dive, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. "All of a sudden I heard a loud squeak, and I turned around, and the dolphin was literally three feet behind me," Laros said. "He swam right up to me."

  Dolphin Caught in Fishing Line Approaches Divers for Help   Yahoo - January 23, 2013
Dolphins are known for being highly intelligent mammals. So intelligent, in fact, that they can communicate with humans even when they have not been trained to do so. That's what happened to a group of divers on an observation trip off the coast of Hawaii, known as the Big Island.

  Dolphin Birth Caught in Amazing Underwater Video   Live Science - September 25, 2012

A female dolphin was born at a Hawaiian resort last week and amazing underwater video footage shows the baby's birth and first swim with her mom. The 12-year-old dolphin mom, Keo, gave birth after about an hour of labor in a lagoon at the Dolphin Quest marine park, part of the Hilton Waikoloa Village. The video shows Keo's calf slowly emerging tail-first. Once she's born, the baby begins swimming a little erratically but soon glides easily alongside her mom. Dolphin Quest officials said the calf started nursing within four hours of birth.

Dolphins at Sea Greet Each Other   Discovery - February 29, 2012
When groups of dolphins meet up in the open sea they thoughtfully introduce themselves. Bottlenose dolphins swap signature whistles with each other when they meet in the open sea, a new study reports, suggesting that these marine mammals engage in something akin to a human conversation. Earlier research found that signature whistles are unique for each dolphin, with the marine mammals essentially naming themselves and communicating other basic information.

Dolphin whistles are unfit for porpoise   PhysOrg - February 29, 2012
Bottlenose dolphins have whistles which they use to exclusively greet other members of their species, marine biologists in Scotland reported. Using hydrophones, the researchers made recordings of dolphins swimming in St. Andrews Bay, off the northeastern coast of Scotland, in the summers of 2003 and 2004. When groups of dolphins met up, they swapped whistles that outwardly sounded the same.

  How Far Will Dolphins Go to Relate to Humans?   New York Times - September 20, 2011
In a remote patch of turquoise sea, Denise L. Herzing splashes into the water with a pod of 15 Atlantic spotted dolphins. For the next 45 minutes, she engages the curious creatures in a game of keep-away, using a piece of Sargassum seaweed like a dog's chew toy. Based in Jupiter, Fla., she has tracked three generations of dolphins in this area. She knows every animal by name, along with individual personalities and life histories. She has captured much of their lives on video, which she is using to build a growing database.

New Dolphin Species Discovered in Big City Harbor   National Geographic - September 16, 2011
Identified by DNA tests, the new mammals were right under researchers' noses. An entirely new species of dolphin has been discovered in Australia, and not in some isolated lagoon but in the shadows of skyscrapers, scientists say. One of only three new dolphin species found since the 1800s, the Burrunan dolphin - naed after an Aboriginal phrase that means "large sea fish of the porpoise kind" - is known from only two populations so far, both in the state of Victoria. About a hundred Burrunan dolphins have been found in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne, Australia's second most populous city. Another 50 are known to frequent the saltwater coastal lakes of the Gippsland region, a couple hundred miles or so away.

Scientists find out that dolphins 'talk' like humans   MSNBC - September 7, 2011
Dolphins do not whistle, but instead "talk" to each other using a process very similar to the way that humans communicate, according to a new study. While many dolphin calls sound like whistles, the study found the sounds are produced by tissue vibrations analogous to the operation of vocal folds by humans and many other land-based animals.

Dolphin Studies Could Reveal Secrets of Extraterrestrial Intelligence   Live Science - September 6, 2011
How do we define intelligence? SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, clearly equates intelligence with technology (or, more precisely, the building of radio or laser beacons). Some, such as the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, suggested that intelligence wasn't just the acquisition of technology, but the ability to develop and improve it, integrating it into our society. By that definition, a dolphin, lacking limbs to create and manipulate complex tools, cannot possibly be described as intelligent. It's easy to see why such definitions prove popular; we are clearly the smartest creatures on the planet, and the only species with technology. It may be human hubris, or some kind of anthropocentric bias that we find difficult to escape from, but our adherence to this definition narrows the phase space in which we're willing to search for intelligent life.

Dolphin hunts with electric sense   BBC - July 27, 2011
A South American dolphin is the first "true mammal" to sense prey by their electric fields, scientists suggest. The researchers first showed that structures on the animal's head were probably sensory organs, then found it could detect electric fields in water.

Dolphins' 'Sixth Sense' Helps Them Feel Electric Fields   Live Science - July 27, 2011
The common Guiana dolphin has just divulged its sixth sense: the ability to sense electric fields. It is the first placental mammal known to pull off this trick, new research finds. The dolphin, which bears live young like other placental mammals, most likely uses its sixth sense to find prey in the murky coastal waters it inhabits.

Miraculous! Dolphin Healing Powers May Help Humans   Live Science - July 21, 2011
You have an animal that has evolved in the ocean without hands or legs, which swims faster than we can, has intelligence that perhaps equals our social and emotional complexity, and its healing is almost alien compared to what we are capable of. Several remarkable abilities work together for the seemingly miraculous healing in dolphins. First, even with a large gaping wound in their side, dolphins don't bleed to death.

Successful mothers get help from their friends: Dolphin study   PhysOrg - November 2, 2010
Female dolphins who have help from their female friends are far more successful as mothers than those without such help, according to a landmark new study.

'Balloon head' dolphin discovered   BBC - November 2, 2010
A new type of dolphin with a short, spoon-shaped nose and high, bulbous forehead has been identified from a fossil found in the North Sea. The Platalearostrum hoekmani was named after Albert Hoekman, the Dutch fisherman who in 2008 trawled up a bone from the creature's skull.

   Why Do Dolphins Rub Flippers? National Geographic - November 10, 2008
Researchers have filmed dophins' behaviors, which include flipper rubbing, to better understand the behaviors' meanings.

Dolphin With Four Fins May Prove Terrestrial Origins   National Geographic - November 6, 2006
Japanese fishers have found an unusual bottlenose dolphin with an extra set of fins that could be an evolutionary throwback to the time when the marine mammals' ancient ancestors walked on land.

Dolphins Name Themselves With Whistles, Study Says National Geographic - May 8, 2006
Dolphins give themselves "names" - distinctive whistles that they use to identify each other, new research shows. Scientists say it's the first time wild animals have been shown to call out their own names.

Newborn dolphins go a month without sleep   New Scientist - June 29, 2005
Newborn dolphins and killer whales do not sleep for a whole month after birth, new research has revealed, and neither do their mothers, who stay awake to keep a close eye on their offspring. The feat of wakefulness is remarkable given that rats die if forcibly denied sleep. And in humans, as any new parent will tell you, sleep deprivation is an exquisite form of torture.

Dolphins combat child deafness   BBC - August 3, 2000
From Yevpatoriya in the Crimea, the BBC's Steven Rosenberg reports on an innovative treatment for deafness in children - one involving dolphins It is showtime at Yevpatoriya's dolphinarium