Dolphins Talk in Their Sleep?

Researchers in France placed microphones in a tank with five dolphins at night to see if they made any noises. Turns out they did and they were making whales noises they had heard played in an audio track at the aquatic park where they live. The audio track was played for human visitors at the beginning of the daily shows at the dolphinarium, and featured mainly whale songs.

The five dolphins studied made the vocalizations, including whale noises, mostly at night from midnight to 3 a.m. which is when they are resting or sleeping.

It is also significant the dolphins were producing vocalizations long after they had heard the sounds they were mimicking, “This is to our knowledge the first time that a long separation between hearing an auditory model and copying it has been observed in a marine mammal,” says the research paper, “Do dolphins rehearse show-stimuli when at rest?”

One explanation for their nocturnal behavior is that the audio track with the whale sounds is played during what is called a salient event, a situation that is a significant aspect of the day, and at night they are rehearsing it for memorization. (Birds have been shown to rehearse their songs at night, so perhaps what the dolphin research found is in some kind of alignment with what birds do also.)

A researcher studying dolphins in Costa Rica found they were creating a sort of hybrid language when a smaller species was imitating the vocalizations of a larger one possibly to show it was interested in being friendly, instead of being harassed by the larger species.

Image Credit: NASA, Public Domain Wiki Commons


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Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Protect Dolphins! Thanks for sharing.

Aditya Narayan
Aditya n5 years ago


Joan E.
Joan Ellis5 years ago


Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago

good news

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago

Good news. Proves we do not know it all and have a duty of care

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Wow! Amazing!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

Dolphins are very smart mammals and should be treated as such. Let them go back to the Ocean where they belong.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Let them GO!

Ayesha Mayhew
Ayesha M6 years ago

This article is heart-wrenching quite frankly, especially coupled with the photo of (presumably) a wild dolphin in its natural environment. For the love of Mercy when will humans allow these intelligent and magnificent creatures their freedom. Even if humans wish to learn from dolphins , is this really the way to go about it?!!

misha dee
misha dee6 years ago

They're probably crying themselves to sleep, because they want to get out of that damn tank and swim free.
Stop nonsense research at the cost of other sentient beings' quality of life.