20 October 2020
We know that dolphins are intelligent and that their whistles and clicks are a form of communication. It was only a matter of time before we figured out part of what they’re saying. For instance …
In 2016 we learned that mother dolphins name their babies by speaking a new signature whistle — the baby’s name — a few days before the calf is born and for two weeks after birth. The calf learns the name its mother gave it and later names itself with its own signature whistle.
Four years ago the Dolphins Plus research institute in Florida proved that dolphins talk to each other when cooperating on a task. Though they didn’t call this “speech,” the Karadag Nature Reserve in Ukraine later showed that dolphins speak in complete sentences of at least five words.
What amazed me most about that discovery is that each dolphin waited for the other one to complete its speech before responding. I’m impressed that dolphins are polite in conversation.
In my family we all talk at the same time. Though we don’t always hear what the other person is saying, we don’t get offended if someone speaks while we speak. It was many years before I realized the behavior is impolite and I still struggle to wait and listen.
I should take a lesson from dolphins.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)