why and how do dolphins tweet? At least bottlenose dolphins

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why and how do dolphins tweet? At least bottlenose dolphins

In: Biology

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Great question! Let’s start with the why:

Dolphins can make a lot of different sounds, mainly divided in three categories: whistles, burst-pulsed sounds and clicks. The whistles and burst sounds are to communicate with other dolphins, they are very social animals! The clicks are used for echolocation, aka biosonar. The clicks bounce off their environment and based off their pitch and time to come back, they can map their surroundings and hunt, like a bat!

Now the how. This gets a little weird. Dolphins have a bunch of nasal airsacs located just below the blowhole, and a fatty organ called the melon right in front of them (kind of their forehead). The dolphin uses the tissue of the nasal airsacs to vibrate, like we humans use our vocal cords (make a low “uhhh” sound and feel your throat vibrate!), and that produces the bursts and whistle or “tweet” sounds! The clicks are produced by passing the vibrations through the melon, which is able to focus the sound into a specific direction.

Bottlenose dolphins are even cooler, they have been found to have signature whistles! It’s like humans having their own voice, and they can
socially communicate much better than way!