|A team of scientists from Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute has found that killer whales living with bottlenose dolphins can learn to modify their vocalizations to be more like those of dolphins. This is the first time vocal learning across species has been studied in toothed whales whose vocal repertoires differ greatly from those of dolphins. The study, which will appear today in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, found that three young killer whales at different marine parks changed the kinds of sounds they made so that their repertoires were more like those of dolphin companions. The whales, which shared the same living environment with dolphins, developed repertoires that were significantly different from those of whales interacting only with other killer whales.The HSWRI study, which was possible only because researchers had access to animals in a controlled zoological setting, took advantage of a unique experimental opportunity to observe killer whales in three different marine parks (two SeaWorld parks and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) where it was possible to monitor and study vocal behavior of killer whales with and without dolphin social partners.
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