Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Stan Kuczaj

Advisor Department



Vocalizations from dolphins were recorded using a hydrophone on several different occasions: from seven previously-housed dolphins prior to introduction of a new animal and from all eight dolphins together, both on the day of introduction and post-introduction. The vocalizations were categorized by visual inspection of spectrograms using Raven, then totaled and averaged. Total vocalizations appeared to peak during the physical introduction of a new individual to the previously-housed dolphins; however, the rates of vocalization per animal per hour showed that the post-introduction period had the most acoustic communications between individual dolphins. Whistles, chirps (a subcategory of whistles), and unmodulated burst pulses appear to make up the majority of dolphins’ communications during a captive introduction, as an identifier for members of the same tank and as a possible aggressive or agonistic display, respectively. In the future, measurements of dolphins’ vocalizations in combination with cortisol tests may serve to increase captive dolphins’ overall wellbeing by reducing the stress on introduced animals during the introduction process.