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Dolphin Moms use Baby Talk to Call Their Children

By: Katelyn Wei

On June 26th, a study found that female bottlenose dolphins change their tone when communicating with their infants. Many mother dolphins whistle when they are with their children, alone, or with other adults. This was all recorded in Florida by researchers. This information can help find out the reasons behind their whistling, so they can apply with that information to people.

The dolphin signature whistle is an important signal to call out for its children. “They use these whistles to keep track of each other. They’re periodically saying, ‘I’m here, I’m here,” said Laela Sayigh, the study co-author.

According to the study, the mother’s whistling’s pitch is higher, and its range is greater when they are directing their signal to their children.

However, the process to gather the information was not easy. It took more than three decades for scientists to place special microphones on the exact same dolphin mothers in Florida to record their whistles. They had to do this process multiple times. This included the years when they gave birth to a baby dolphin which stays with their mother for around three years.

People still wonder why people, dolphins, or any other creatures use baby talk. Scientists believe it helps kids to learn how to pronounce words and sounds. Research from the 1980’s states that kids pay more attention to words with higher pitch range. For example, zebra finches, a type of bird, elevate their pitch and sang their songs slower to communicate to their chicks.

For dolphins, researchers mainly focused on the signature call, so they have no clue whether dolphins also use baby talk for other exchanges or to help their children speak like people do.

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