Echolocation is the process of locating a distant or invisible object by reflecting sound. It is used by dolphins, toothed whales, porpoises, and bats very effectively to find their prey.
How Do Dolphins Use Echolocation?
Famous marine conservationist, scientist Jacques Cousteau is the first one to study Echolocation.
Dolphins produce short bursts of ‘clicks’. There is an organ called melon located in dolphins’ foreheads. It projects the click sound to the waters. These sound waves travel through the water. Sound waves can travel through water five times faster than air. When the sounds bounce off any object, it produces echoes.
The echoes are caught by dolphins using their lower jaw and huge foreheads. The fatty tissues of these areas help the sound travel to the ear and then to the brain. Dolphins can measure the distance, shape, size, direction, speed etc of the objects around using echolocation.
The mechanism is quite complex and accurate. Dolphin sonar can even detect the density difference. More research is required to fully understand this.
Why Do Dolphins Need to Use Echolocation?
Using echolocation dolphins can hunt food even in murky water, where the visibility is very low. Dolphins can even find prey hiding underneath sands by bouncing echolocation sounds.
Most dolphins have the ability to produce high-frequency sounds. Even though the frequency varies from species to species, they can still use echolocation.
Researchers believe that dolphins have evolved this unique ability over time to survive in the water.
Echolocation is most effective at a range of 5 to 200 meters of distance.
Dolphins produce echolocation sounds at a frequency of 120KHz. The human can only hear frequencies from 20-20KHz. So humans can not hear Dolphin echolocation.