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A Dolphin’s Squeak is Like a Baby’s First Words!

Kera's avatar

Whale Watching | Mammals

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Dolphins are a very vocal species that can be found off of the coast of Long Beach on a regular basis. There are a variety of species that inhabit these waters pretty much all year long. Just recently, the Aquarium of the Pacific was lucky enough to partner with some researchers at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego to help us get even closer to the dolphins than before. Read on to find out how!

When we come across a large pod of dolphins, they will often times ride the front of the boat or surf our wakes in the back. If you listen very closely, you can sometimes hear some high-pitched squeaking. Those are the dolphins communicating with each other. It’s usually pretty hard to hear for the human ear, but thanks to advances in technology, we now have the tools to help us hear under the water!

A hydrophone is like a microphone that is used under the water. They’ve been used to study whales and dolphins for many years. You might also hear it referred to as whale acoustics. Here at the Aquarium of the Pacific we now have an acoustic array that houses three hydrophones and will let us listen to whales and dolphins! This last week we’ve been doing our first test runs, and it sounds great!

Because dolphins are such vocal animals, we have many great opportunities to listen to dolphins on our trips. They won’t always be vocal, but so far, more than half of the trips have shown dolphins talking up a storm. They tend to be more vocal when they’re feeding, or traveling very fast, such as when they’re riding the front of the boat.

The first time I heard the dolphins while we were towing the array, I knew we had something special. Although at this time I don’t have any kids, I think I can imagine what it would be like to hear a child say their first words. That’s what hearing the dolphins around us was like. I had so many emotions going on as I listened to them in real time. I guess I really am a whale and dolphin lover. It’s a wonderful and exciting addition to the boat, and I can’t wait to see what we discover with it! If you’d like to join us for a chance to listen to the dolphins, click here!

A Dolphin’s Squeak is Like a Baby’s First Words!
I'm pulling the hydrophone up after a tow.  | Dinah Garcia
A Dolphin’s Squeak is Like a Baby’s First Words!
You can see the hydrophone being towed behind the boat. The green cable is attached to the actual array.  | Dinah Garcia

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