Cetacean Communication Research
Understanding cetacean communication to improve monitoring and conservation efforts
We conduct research of wild whales and dolphins (cetaceans) to investigate the form, function and evolution of acoustic communication.
We seek to understand how cetaceans operate in their natural environments, how they are affected by human activities such as marine development, and what we can change to mitigate those effects.
We augment acoustic monitoring of cetaceans to transform the way we monitor cetaceans at scale and ultimately provide rapid information for managing cetacean populations.
Did you know that dolphins Have Names?
Each bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) has a unique signature whistle that it uses to maintain and re-establish contact with conspecifics and navigate complex social relationships. Dolphins recognize whistles from familiar conspecifics, are more likely to reply to familiar whistles, remember signature whistles across decades, and even copy the signature whistle of a familiar conspecific like a calf to capture the attention of that individual!
Every year, we record signature whistles from a resident population of common bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota, FL, and we maintain an extensive database of signature whistles recorded from >260 individuals across the last 3.5 decades. We use this unique dataset to investigate how signature whistles vary within and between individuals, how whistles develop over time, and how information is encoded in them. We also train machines to recognize individual animals by their signature whistle, and we develop tools and techniques to expand these approaches to other delphinid populations worldwide.
Long-term studies of bottlenose dolphin communication
We investigate communication and cognition of wild bottlenose dolphins with our partners at the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program in Florida - the world's longest running study of a wild population of dolphins.
The Sarasota Dolphin Signature Whistle Database
We develop and maintain the largest database of known bottlenose dolphin signature whistles, or "names", with >269 individual animals recorded from a single population over the last 3.5 decades.
Quantifying and mitigating impacts of noise
We study how cetaceans communicate and find food in their natural environments and how anthropogenic noise affects these processes using non-invasive sound and movement recording suction cup tags.
Improving acoustic monitoring
We develop new techniques to monitor and manage cetacean populations, from detecting mass stranding events before they happen, to tracking individuals and counting populations of dolphins through their individual signature whistles.
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If you are interested in collaborations, educational or student research opportunities, or options for helping out, reach out to us by email.
Your donation makes a difference for the marine mammals that we share the ocean with. Your gift will support critical research and help develop new tools to conserve and protect cetaceans.