Hearing deficits measured in some Tursiops truncatus, and discovery of a deaf/mute dolphin

J Acoust Soc Am. 1997 Jan;101(1):590-4. doi: 10.1121/1.418122.


Eight bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus (four male, four female) were trained to respond to 100-ms tones. Three male dolphins (ages 23, 26, and 34) exhibited hearing disability at four higher frequencies-70, 80, 100, and 120 kHz even at 111-135 dB re: 1 microPa. Two females (ages 32 and 35) responded to all frequencies as did a male (age 7) and a female (age 11). One female (age 33) responded to all tones at 80 kHz and below; however, she failed to respond at 100 or 120 kHz. One young female dolphin (age 9) exhibited no perception of sound to behavioral or electrophysiological tests. This young female was not only deaf, but mute. The dolphin was monitored periodically by hydrophone and daily by trainers (by ear in air) for 7 years until she was age 16. The animal never whistled or made echolocation pulses or made burst pulse sounds as other dolphins do.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Deafness / diagnosis*
  • Dolphins*
  • Echolocation / physiology
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Vocalization, Animal*