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Dolphin Sounds

Why sound in the sea is important?
Dolphins probably rely on sound production and reception to navigate, communicate, and hunt in dark or murky waters. Under these conditions, sight is of little use.

Sound production

  1. Click here to listen
  2. Toothed whales can produce sounds for two functions: communicating and navigating. A bottlenose dolphin can communicate and navigate at the same time.
  3. Sounds are probably produced by movements of air in the trachea and nasal sacs. During some vocalizations, bottlenose dolphins actually release air from the blowhole, but scientists believe that these bubble trails and clouds are a visual display and not necessary for producing sound.
  4. Bottlenose dolphins produce clicks and sounds that resemble moans, trills, grunts, squeaks, and creaking doors. They also produce whistles. They make these sounds at any time and at considerable depths. The sounds vary in volume, wavelength, frequency, and pattern.


  1. Bottlenose dolphins identify themselves with a signature whistle. However, scientists have found no evidence of a dolphin language (Caldwell, Caldwell, and Tyack, 1990).
  2. A mother dolphin may whistle to her calf almost continuously for several days after giving birth. This acoustic imprinting helps the calf learn to identify its mother

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