Classical music may help dolphins to bond

Music helps dolphins to live in harmony according to a recent study. Researchers from the University of Padua in northern Italy used underwater speakers to play classical music to 8 bottlenose dolphins housed in a dolphinarium. There were five females and three males aged 5-49 of which three had been born in the wild. They played the music of Beethoven, Debussy and Bach for 20 minutes per day annd when they did, they found that the dolphins started showing more sociable behaviour and it continued for a while afterwards.

Dolphin pod
Dolphin pod. Photo: Pixabay.

They showed more interest in each other. They gave each other gentle touches and they swam in synchrony for longer compared to when they weren’t listening to music.

When dolphins touch gently it is the same as grooming each other in other animals. And when they swim together it is a sign of social bonding indicating that they have affiliations or friendships with each other.

When the researchers try stimulating this bonding behaviour with other influences such as photographs, objects to play with and the sound of rainfall it did not have the same effect.

The researchers believe that the music made them feel happier and this may be because it stimulates the endogenous opioids in their body.

Activation of opioid receptors is correlated with a feeling of euphoria said Dr. Cécile Guérineau. She also said that, “We know that, in a wide range of animals from mammals, monkeys, dogs, rats et cetera to non-mammals and birds, endorphins (one type of endogenous opioids) are related to social bonding.”

The researchers thought that playing music the dolphins may be particularly useful when they were under stress or it may help to reduce the possibility of conflict and perhaps it could be used when changes were needed to the social composition of the pod (group).

The findings were published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science. My thanks to the report in The Times newspaper of July 14th 2022.

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Post Category: Marine wildlife > dolphins