dolphin underwater

Dolphin Echolocation

Echolocation is a sensory sonar system that dolphins use for communication and for locating things in their environment.

Dolphins release a focused beam of clicking sounds (sound waves) and then listen to the echo. From this they can determine the following about an object (such as a fish).

  • size
  • shape
  • distance
  • speed
  • direction
  • internal structure (depending on the object)

Echolocation enables the dolphin to see in a much more complex way than it might seem. In fact, the information available from echolocation includes things that we would not notice or see with the naked eye. Depending on the object, sound waves can enter beneath the surface therefore giving feedback and information of the internal structure of an object.

The dolphin's echolocation sensory system is fascinating and complex and remains a mystery in many ways. There are theories that dolphins may view their surroundings holographically and are able to transfer these holographic images to other dolphins. We do know that echolocation is extremely sensitive and allows dolphins to examine small objects hundreds of yards away!

dolphin echolocation

More about Dolphin Echolocation

Sonar in Dolphins
An exploration of the sonar system of Tursiops truncatus

Dolphin Echolocation
How dolphins use sound by The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. This site includes a recording of dolphin clicks.