Dolphins 'converse' in sentences up to 5 words long

September 12, 2016, 11:46 a.m.
Atlantic bottlenose dolphins leaping, Tursiops truncatus
Photo: Tory Kallman/Shutterstock

Researchers have long studied the clicks, chirps and other calls that dolphins make to understand how these intelligent mammals communicate with one another.

While it's known that individual dolphins have distinct identification calls that they use as names, and that they use sounds in a way that resembles language as we humans understand it, there's still much to learn. However, researchers from the Karadag Nature Reserve in Feodosia, Russia, have made progress in deciphering dolphin communication. They found that two Black Sea bottlenose dolphins named Yasha and Yana speak to each other in sentences that can be up to five "words" long.

According to

The researchers at Karadag Nature Reserve used a new underwater microphone that could distinguish between different sounds the animals made. They found there was an eerily human-like flow to the conversation between Yasha and Yana. The animals would take turns producing pulses and clicks with up to five distinct sounds or "words," if you will. The other dolphin would wait for the "sentence" to be complete before replying.

While we don't know yet what these words are or the meaning of the conversation, it's clear that this is a complex way of communicating.

“This language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language," says lead researcher Dr. Vyacheslav Ryabov.