News Chatty Dolphins Work Together Study Finds

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Chatty dolphins work together, study finds
15th July 2020

By Justine Thompson

Bottlenose dolphins have been observed chattering while co-operating to solve a tricky puzzle – a feat that suggests they have a type of vocalisation dedicated to cooperating on problem solving.

Holli Eskelinen of Dolphins Plus research institute in Florida and her colleagues at the University of Southern Mississippi undertook a study of six captive dolphins with a locked canister filled with food. The canister could only be opened by simultaneously pulling on a rope at either end.

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Only two of the dolphins ever managed to crack the puzzle and get to the food. However, what surprised scientists the most was the vocalisations the dolphins made during the experiment.  When the dolphins worked together to open the canister, they made more vocalisations than they did while attempting to open the canister on their own or when there was either no canister present or no interaction with the canister in the pool.

The researchers were able to show that the increase in chatter was directly related to the canister-opening task as opposed to social interactions between the dolphins, the New Scientist.