- Dolphins swimming off the coast of Wales said to have their own ‘Welsh accent’
- The frequency of clicks used by dolphins is also faster than anywhere else in the world
- Experts discovered this after studying 240 dolphin pods in Cardigan Bay
- This study was done for the BBC Nature series Wonders of the Celtic Deep
New research shows that dolphins swimming off the coast of Wales – who have found their ‘Welsh accent’ – speak faster than anywhere else in the world.
The whistling of pods around Cardigan Bay has a unique regional signature and was detected at a higher frequency than others around the world.
The discovery came after experts from the BBC Nature series Wonders of the Celtic Deep studied 240 bottlenose dolphins that explore the West Wales coastline.
Dolphins swimming off the coast of Wales – which have been found to have their own ‘Welsh accent’ – speak faster than anywhere else in the world, research shows (stock image)
How do dolphins use the ‘signature whistle’?
Signature whistles are sounds made by dolphins, which are used to identify different individuals.
Dolphin calves will eventually make their own individual whistles, but in the earlier stages of life, they use their mother.
In a previous study, researchers at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in California looked at a dolphin mother who gave birth to a dolphin baby named Mira in 2014.
They recorded 80 hours of sounds from the mother, baby and other dolphins in the enclosure for two months before and two months after birth.
Recordings showed that the mother dolphin began to amplify her signature whistle two weeks before birth, and continued to do so until two weeks after birth.
In contrast, the other dolphins in the enclosure did not produce their own signature whistles during this time at very high rates.
Show’s narrator Dame Sean Phillips said: ‘Bottlenose dolphins are highly sociable, with groups in constant communication.
‘Each dolphin has its own unique signature whistle and the Cardigan Bay dolphin may have its own dialect.
‘Their whistles occur at a higher frequency than those recorded anywhere else in the world.’
Researchers have previously found that Cardigan Bay dolphins have different whistling sounds to other pods found around the UK.
In 2007 a study was conducted by Ronan Hickey, a marine scientist at the University of Wales in Bangor and experts from the Shannon Dolphin Foundation in Ireland.
They digitized and analyzed 1,882 whistles from 120 Irish sea dolphins so that Welsh dolphins could have their own pronunciation.
Speaking at the time, project leader Dr Simon Bero said: ‘We are trying to associate the types of whistles with different forms of behavior – such as feeding, relaxing, socializing and communicating with their young.
‘There was a distinctive and distinctive one to the dolphins of Cardigan Bay.
‘We’re really building a dictionary of a whole range of sounds. There are whistles, clicks, barks, groans and the sound of a gunshot which they can use to stun their prey.’
The finding followed studies showing that cows differ across countries in regional accents and bird calls.
In 2007, cheesemakers in the West Country said their cows had a distinct local accent, a claim supported by experts who said ‘dialectical variations’ would be influenced by peer groups.
The whistling of pods around Cardigan Bay is a unique regional signature and was found at a higher frequency than others around the world (stock image)
Welsh dolphins are a major attraction for tourists on boat trips from New Quay and Eberron and from vantage points on the beach.
Every year more than 25,000 holidaymakers go sightseeing on the boats to see their antics.
At the time of the discovery of the ‘Welsh accent’, Steve Hartley, manager of the Cardigan Marine Wildlife Centre, said: ‘It makes sense that different groups of dolphins separated by large distances have different accents.
‘It’s nice to know he has his own Welsh accent.
‘Dolphins are very important to our tourism industry and I am sure the fact that they whistle in Welsh will be an added attraction.
Why scientists think whales and dolphins mourn
Whales and dolphins have been sometimes seen ‘carrying’ or caring for their dead young.
These creatures may be bereaved or they have failed to acknowledge or recognize that the offspring or mate has died.
Scientists still don’t know whether aquatic mammals actually recognize death and want to do more research on the issue.
In 2016, scientists found evidence that whales and dolphins are ‘watchful’ for their dead.
They analyzed several cases where mammals clung to the bodies of dead compatriots, and kept watch over a dead companion.
At the time, he said the most likely explanation was mourning.
The study compiled observations from 14 events.
They found that mothers often carried their dead babies over water, often with friends.
In many cases, the dead offspring were decapitated, indicating that they were kept for a long time.