An 'Aww' Moment: Study Finds Dolphin Mothers Sing To Their Babies In The Womb

An underwater lullaby.

It's not uncommon for a pregnant mother to sing to her child in the womb. This teaches the child the sound of the mother's voice and also helps with early communication skills. This beautiful bonding method isn't exclusive to humans: new research has shown that dolphin mothers do it, too.

Dolphins are intelligent and social animals, so it makes sense that communication is very important. Every bottlenose dolphin crafts a signature whistle, a unique sound that other members of the pod use to identify them, just like a name. 


It's important for newborn calves to be very familiar with their mother's signature whistle, in case they get separated and the youngster needs to call for help. As the mother dolphin gets closer to giving birth, she begins repeating her "name" whistle more frequently, imprinting the sound onto her baby. She continues this for the first two weeks of the calf's life.

While this is an incredible discovery on its own, this process involves more than just the mother and calf. 

As the mother prepares for the calf's birth and increases her whistling, the other members of the pod actually quiet down. When she starts to drop off with the imprinting when the calf is two weeks old, the pod resumes their normal communication levels. 

Researcher Audra Ames explained to Live Science that this is likely to make sure that the calf hears its mother's signature whistle clearly and doesn't become confused by the whistles of others — a true testament to how important this early communication is for dolphins.

Moving forward, Ames' team will study communication in other cetaceans to find out how common it is for mothers to sing to their unborn calves.

(H/T: Live Science)

Cover image: Shutterstock


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.