To improve our understanding of how dolphins use acoustic signals in the wild, a three-hydrophone towed array was used to investigate the spatial occurrence of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) relative to each other as they produced whistles, burst pulses, and echolocation clicks. Groups of approximately 30 to 60 animals were recorded while they traveled and socialized in nearshore waters off Oahu, Hawaii. Signaling animals were localized using time of arrival difference cues on the three channels. Sequences of whistles occurred between dolphins separated by significantly greater distances than animals producing burst pulses. Whistles typically originated from dolphins spaced widely apart (median = ), supporting the hypothesis that whistles play a role in maintaining contact between animals in a dispersed group. Burst pulses, on the other hand, usually came from animals spaced closer to one another (median = ), suggesting they function as a more intimate form of signaling between adjacent individuals. The spacing between echolocating animals was more variable and exhibited a bimodal distribution. Three quarters of echolocating animals were separated by or more, suggesting that the task of vigilance in a pod may not be shared equally by all members at all times.
The spatial context of free-ranging Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) producing acoustic signals
Marc O. Lammers, Michiel Schotten, Whitlow W. L. Au; The spatial context of free-ranging Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) producing acoustic signals. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 February 2006; 119 (2): 1244–1250. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2151804
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