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Body Language

Body posturing or "body language" is an obvious way in which dolphins exchange a wealth of information. Bodily contact itself is one important way dolphins communicate fellowship. Dolphins are tactile animals and are often observed touching and caressing each other. Much of this physical contact is likely to reaffirm friendly relations among individuals and groups. Dolphins can be seen stroking or petting each other with their pectoral fins, rostrum, and flukes. Genital contact is prevalent among dolphins regardless of age, gender, or hormonal influences.

Synchronous movements are another way in which dolphins reveal solidarity. Dolphins surfacing together, turning simultaneously, swimming in sync, and even jumping together display their close association. This type of behavior is especially common during courtship displays.

Aggression is often communicated by an open mouth, exaggerated movements, jaw clapping, and inverted swimming. Agressive posturing is frequently a prelude to biting, buting, or tail-slapping (fluking). The number of scratches from other dolphins' teeth (rake marks), are a tale-tell sign of an individual's fighting skill.

Dolphins will sometimes produce sounds by slapping the surface of the water with the pectoral fins or flukes. They will aslo jump into the air and land on one side for a louder effect. Such slapping and breaching may communicate an animal's location, frame of mind, or even used as an alarm to warn against danger.


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