What Do Cetaceans See?

SCIENCE

In a scientific first, researchers have reproduced what a dolphin saw and heard as it encountered a human diver. (Discovery News)

Use our resources to better understand the secret language of dolphins.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

This computer-enhanced image depicts what Amaya, a female dolphin, “sees” as she uses echolocation to assess Jim McDonough, a diver with SpeakDolphin. Photograph courtesy SpeakDolphin

This computer-enhanced image depicts what Amaya, a female dolphin, “sees” as she uses echolocation to assess Jim McDonough, a diver with SpeakDolphin.
Photograph courtesy SpeakDolphin

This beautiful Brian Skerry image depicts what humans see as they use ocular perception to assess a captive dolphin at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic

This beautiful Brian Skerry image depicts what humans see as they use ocular perception to assess a captive dolphin at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California.
Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

 

 

  • What do dolphins use echolocation for?
    • According to SeaWorld, “dolphins rely heavily on sound production and reception to navigate, communicate, hunt, and avoid predators in dark or limited vision waters.”

 

  • In the experiment that captured a dolphin’s-eye-view of a diver, the diver didn’t use scuba gear. Why not?
    • The bubbles from a breathing apparatus might interfere with the image.

 

  • What aspect of the dolphin’s-eye-view image surprised researchers?
    • Researchers expected to see an echolocation image of the diver’s face, but instead got “what appears to be the fuzzy silhouette of almost a full man. No face.” It turns out the dolphin, a female named Amaya, had been using echolocation to track the (male) diver for a while before the diver was aware and his face was close enough to take up her entire field of echolocation “vision.”

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Discovery News: Image Shows How Dolphins See People

Nat Geo: Secret Language of Dolphins

Camp Google: See with Your Ears

SpeakDolphin.com: Researchers at Speakdolphin.com Create First 3D Print of a Human Being Using Dolphin Echolocation – “What a Dolphin Saw!”

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