Sarasota scientists discovered dolphins give each other names - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota scientists discovered dolphins give each other names

Posted: Updated:
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

There are a few famous dolphin names you may have heard of.  There's the TV-star 'Flipper', or Clearwater's popular resident, 'Winter'.  But researchers just discovered bottlenose dolphins actually call out to each other by name, and this groundbreaking research was done in Sarasota.

Out in the pristine waters of Sarasota bay, scientists from Mote Marine Lab have spent the past thirty years studying the local residents- bottlenose dolphins.  And they noticed something interesting- these mammals would communicate to one another using distinctive whistles.

They soon found these were not random noises.  One of the lead scientists in the study, Dr. Randall Wells, is a local researcher who's been studying dolphins in Sarasota Bay for years.  He said,"These whistles actually turned out to be names. They're abstract names which is unheard of in the animal kingdom beyond people."

This report was just published a few weeks ago. These scientists discovered bottlenose dolphins come up with their own names when they're very young.  Wells said, "These animals will call another individual's name to get their attention. So they not only understand they have an identity but they understand the other animal's identity and they use that through communication."

The researcher says bottlenose dolphins don't swim in the wild with their own families. Instead they make long term friendships with dolphins from other families.  And they've learned by using these distinctive whistles the dolphins can keep in touch with their friends and make new ones.

Wells says out in the gulf, this name calling comes in handy.  He said, "These animals are living in a murky, estuary environment. They have to maintain group cohesion and stay in contact with one another and coordinate their activities- how do you do that when you can't see one another?"

This is groundbreaking research and scientists say it's only the tip of the iceberg. They plan to use these findings to better understand these mammals in their natural environment.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:49 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:49:59 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Lakeland neighborhood has continuing water problems, asks 8OYS for help

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:03:34 GMT
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
    Some Lakeland residents are tired of wondering whether they'll have water at home. Over the past month, they tell 8 On Your Side that they've lost water with no warning at least five times. And what's worse, the water stays off for up to eight hours at a time
  • NewsMore>>

  • Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Labor Day - more than just a day off

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:41:03 GMT
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
    While many people have the day off work, the day is actually meant to celebrate the achievements and contributions of American workers.
  • Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Two shot outside party in Tampa

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:59 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:59:20 GMT
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
    Two people have gunshot wounds after a shooting outside a party in Tampa early Sunday morning, Tampa police said. 
  • Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Pilot dies in plane crash near downtown St. Pete

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:44 AM EDT2014-09-01 07:44:26 GMT
    Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.Rescue boaters are on the scene of a downed banner plane near Albert Whitted Airport.
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 
    The pilot of a banner plane that crashed into the water near Albert Whitted Airport has died, St. Petersburg police officials said. 

Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.