At DCP, we study dolphin communication, social behavior and cognition. We funnel our research results into engaging and lively educational programs for "kids" of all ages. We collaborate with other scientists internationally and across disciplines (e.g., acoustics, population dynamics, etc.).
We are dedicated to continuing long-term, longitudinal observations of dolphins in four study locations: Bimini, The Bahamas, Mikura Island, Japan, Roatan, Honduras, and Nassau, The Bahamas.
Program in the Bahamas
From 1991 to 2002, Dudzinski observed and recorded Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) north of Grand Bahamas Island, The Bahamas. Atlantic spotted dolphins use a variety of signals to exchange information that vary according to dolphin age, sex, behavioral activity and group type. Age and sex differences were documented as related to initiator and receiver roles assumed by dolphins; for example, dolphins more often exchanged rubs or pets with individuals of the same sex and age class. Physical contact and sounds varied significantly, but at differing levels, with behavioral activity, group type and age. Touch and sounds could be used concurrently, to maximize or enhance a message, or could be used separately, but with similar functions.
Since 2001, various students have collaborated with DCP to study the Atlantic spotted dolphins found around Bimini, The Bahamas. We currrently continue our studies of both the spotted and bottlenose dolphins seen near to Bimini. For references and more information related to ongoing research by Kelly Melillo (interspecific dolphin interactions) and Darcie Blanding (calf interactions with conspecifics) see the Bahamas research page.
Program in Japan
Work on Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) found around Mikura Island offers a unique opportunity to examine dolphin behavior in a setting far different from the Bahamas. Mikura Island is about 180 km south of Tokyo, Japan. Mikura is a dormant volcano likely thousands of years old: near shore is shallow (4-20 meters) but depths over 100 meters can be found within 250 meters of shore. DCP's research in Japan focuses on dolphin signal exchange, but is also now providing data for Justin Gregg on how dolphins might eavesdrop on the echolocation of their neighbors. See the Japan research page for details on our research on bottlenose dolphins around Mikura Island.
Program at RIMS, Honduras
The common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) residing at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) in Roatan, Honduras provide a unique opportunity to compare the behavior of these captive animals to that recorded from wild dolphins in both The Bahamas and Japan. Collection of data from both wild and captive study sites facilitates species, habitat, and geographical comparisons with respect to behavior and communication, as well as the opportunity to look at the similarities between wild dolphins and those in captivity. For more information, see the Honduras research page.
Program at Dolphin Encounters, Nassau, The Bahamas
In May 2006, DCP staff began research at our fourth study site, and second captive group of dolphins, on the common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at Dolphin Encounters in Nassau, The Bahamas. Adding work on this group of dolphins to our roster of sites and animals being observed allows us to include the recorded behavior of two groups of captive dolphins and two groups of wild dolphins into our data analyses. For her Master's Degree from the University of Connecticut, Kristy Beard collected data on the function of bubble production (from the blowhole) as a visual signal for communication from these dolphins and compared results with data collected from the bottlenose and spotted dolphins at Bimini, The Bahamas. For more information, see the DCP Dolphin Encounters research page.
With research currently ongoing at four locations including three dolphin species and several distinct research questions, DCP scientists are also investigating how each group compares to the others. What are the similarities and differences in use and production of tactile and vocal behavior among dolphins at Mikura versus the Bahamas' spotted group? Could species or habitat differences play a significant factor in any observed differences in signal exchange? Are there differences between wild dolphins and those in captivity? These are just some of the questions that scientists collaborating with DCP are pursuing. Check out the research section of this web site for more details.