Eavesdropping in wild rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) ?

Thomas Gotz, Ursula K Verfuss, Hans-Ulrich Schnitzler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Several authors suggest that dolphins use information obtained by eavesdropping on echoes from sonar signals of conspecifics, but there is little evidence that this strategy is used by dolphins in the wild. Travelling rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) either exhibit asynchronous movements or an extremely synchronized swimming behaviour in tight formations, which we expect to facilitate eavesdropping. Therefore, we determined, whether either one or more dolphins were echolocating in subgroups that were travelling with asynchronous and synchronized movements. Since, the number of recording sequences in which more than one animal produced sonar signals was significantly lower during synchronized travel, we conclude that the other members of a subgroup might get information on targets ahead by eavesdropping. Synchronized swimming in tight formations might be an energetic adaptation for travelling in a pelagic dolphin species that facilitates eavesdropping.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-7
Number of pages3
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2006


  • echolocation
  • eavesdropping
  • dolphin


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