I’ve had a few queries from folks looking for comments/thoughts on the recent press release from speakdolphin.com that purportedly reveals an image of “What Dolphins See With Echolocation.” The press release has been repackaged as a news story that is making the rounds on the web. As far as my take on this story goes from a scientific perspective, there is really nothing I can say. The researchers involved in generating these images have not published any scientific articles (peer-reviewed or otherwise) which would allow the scientific community to evaluate what is going on with their work. In other words, the scientific community is waiting on published studies to properly determine the legitimacy of the claims being made. A press release does not provide enough information, and should be taken with a grain of salt at this stage. For those interested in learning about what dolphins “see” with their echolocation based on the current body of published scientific evidence, here is a very small sample of helpful books and articles:
Au, W. W. L. (1993). The Sonar of Dolphins. Springer-Verlag.
deLong, C. M., Au, W. W. L., & Harley, H. E. (2002). Features of echoes bottlenose dolphins use to perceive object properties. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 112(5), 2335.
Houser, D., Martin, S. W., Bauer, E. J., Phillips, M., Herrin, T., Cross, M., Vidal, A., et al. (2005). Echolocation characteristics of free-swimming bottlenose dolphins during object detection and identification. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 117(4 Pt 1), 2308-2317
Muller, M. W., Allen, J. S., Au, W. W. L., & Nachtigall, P. E. (2008). Time-frequency analysis and modeling of the backscatter of categorized dolphin echolocation clicks for target discrimination. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 124(1), 657-666.
Helweg, D. A., Moore, P. W., Dankiewicz, L. A., Zafran, J. M., & Brill, R. L. (2003). Discrimination of complex synthetic echoes by an echolocating bottlenose dolphin. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 113(2), 1138-1144.
Xitco, M. J., & Roitblat, H. L. (1996). Object recognition through eavesdropping: Passive echolocation in bottlenose dolphins. Animal Learning Behavior, 24(4), 355-365.
Gregg, J.D., Dudzinski, K.M., Smith, H.V. (2007) Do dolphins eavesdrop on the echolocation signals of conspecifics? International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 20, 65-88.