Captive bottlenose dolphins do discriminate human-made sounds both underwater and in the air

Abstract : Bottlenose dolphins () spontaneously emit individual acoustic signals that identify them to group members. We tested whether these cetaceans could learn artificial individual sound cues played underwater and whether they would generalize this learning to airborne sounds. Dolphins are thought to perceive only underwater sounds and their training depends largely on visual signals. We investigated the behavioral responses of seven dolphins in a group to learned human-made individual sound cues, played underwater and in the air. Dolphins recognized their own sound cue after hearing it underwater as they immediately moved toward the source, whereas when it was airborne they gazed more at the source of their own sound cue but did not approach it. We hypothesize that they perhaps detected modifications of the sound induced by air or were confused by the novelty of the situation, but nevertheless recognized they were being "targeted." They did not respond when hearing another group member's cue in either situation. This study provides further evidence that dolphins respond to individual-specific sounds and that these marine mammals possess some capacity for processing airborne acoustic signals.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 19, 2019 - 9:17:56 AM
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Alice de Moura Lima, Mélissa Sébilleau, Martin Böye, Candice Durand, Martine Hausberger, et al.. Captive bottlenose dolphins do discriminate human-made sounds both underwater and in the air. Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers, 2018, 9, pp.55. ⟨10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00055⟩. ⟨hal-01694061⟩

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