GOOD NEWS

New study finds male dolphins match the tempo of each other's calls

Trio of allied males rely on synchronous movements and vocals to maintain social bonds. Photo: Dolphin Alliance Project
Trio of allied males rely on synchronous movements and vocals to maintain social bonds. Photo: Dolphin Alliance Project

A team of researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of Bristol have found that when it comes to working together, male dolphins coordinate their behaviour just like us.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides insight into the importance of physical and vocal coordination in alliance-forming animals.

The study used long-term acoustic data collected from the population of dolphins in Western Australia, to show that allied male dolphins also matched the tempo of their partner's calls when working together, and would sometimes even produce their calls in sync.

In humans, synchronised actions can lead to increased feelings of bonding, foster cooperation and diminish the perceived threat of rivals.

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Lead author Bronte Moore found the same with male bottlenose dolphins as they could form alliances that lasted for decades by synchronising their physical behaviour.

"To advertise their alliance relationships and maintain their social bonds, they rely on synchronous movements but we wanted to know whether they would also synchronise their vocal behaviour," she said.

"The study showed that male bottlenose dolphins not only synchronise their movements, but also coordinate their vocal behaviour when cooperating together in alliances.

"This behaviour may help reduce tension between the males in a situation that requires them to cooperate successfully."

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This is exciting news for the Peel region as the Peel-Harvey estuary is home to more than 80 resident dolphins.

There are another 30 who live in the Dawesville Cut and hundreds more along our coast who also occasionally visit our inland waterways.

Next time you are around the Peel-Harvey estuary look out for this synchronous behaviour from the local dolphins and send a photo to editor@mandurahmail.com.au