Dolphins are all right(ies)

Episode 20
Mar 20, 2020, 11:36 AM

In this special podcast episode celebrating 20 years of the Dolphin Communication Project, Laura and Justin interview Kelly Melillo-Sweeting, Bimini Research Manager and all-around awesome scientist. Kel explains the findings form her recently published article on laterality in bottlenose dolphins – that is, a preference that dolphins seem to have for the right side of their bodies when hunting for prey in the sand. Just before dolphins stick their heads in the sand to grab hidden prey, they almost always twist to the left, maybe allowing them to use their right eye (i.e., their preferred eye) to give the ocean floor one last look before plunging their faces into it. Or maybe it’s because dolphin echolocation works best on the right side when it comes to searching for prey buried in the sand. Whatever the reason, the bottlenose dolphins off Bimini, The Bahamas are almost all (with one exception) left twisters when crater feeding.

In the episode, Laura goes head-to-head with Kelly Melillo-Sweeting in a science quiz focused on a recently published article on lateral behavior in bottlenose dolphins. It’s going to be an uphill battle for poor Laura since Kelly is one of the authors of the article.

Here's the article being discussed in this episode: Kaplan, JD. Goodrich, SY, Melillo-Sweeting K, Reiss, D. (2019). Behavioural laterality in foraging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Royal Society Open Science. 6: 190929. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190929.