Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 251–257

Whistle repertoires of two bottlenosed dolphins, Tursiops truncatus: mimicry of signature whistles?

  • Peter Tyack


The whistle vocalizations of two bottlenosed dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were recorded at the Sealand Aquarium in Brewster, Massachusetts. The identification of which dolphin within the group produced a vocalization was made possible by a telemetry device attached to the dolphin's head with a suction cup. 77% of the identified whistles (219 our of 284) fell into two primary categories, type 1 and type 2 (Table 1). The remaining 23% of whistles fell into five secondary categories. Of the primary whistles produced by one dolphin, 78% were of type 1 (22% type 2), while 69% of primary whistles from the other dolphin were of type 2 (31% type 1). The result that each of the dolphins favored a different primary whistle supports the findings of Caldwell and Caldwell (1965), that each dolphin produces an individually distinctive whistle. But in the present study, both dolphins produced both primary whistle types. This may represent mimicry of signature whistles.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Tyack
    • 1
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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