Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Episode 542 (9-14-20): Dolphins in Sound and Music

 Click to listen to episode (4:21)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-11-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 14, 2020. 

MUSIC – ~7 sec – instrumental

This week, that music opens an episode about a group of intelligent and social marine mammals.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds to three kinds of mystery sounds, along with a bit more of the music, and see if you can guess this group of ocean animals.  And here’s a hint: they’re a popular attraction at places like the National Aquarium.

SOUNDS ~ 16 sec 

MUSIC - ~ 13 sec - instrumental

If you guessed dolphins, you’re right!  You heard sounds from the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, and Risso’s Dolphin, also known as Grampus.  The music was “Dolphin Dialogues,” by Torrin Hallett, a graduate student at Lamont School of Music in Denver.  Eight dolphin species are known to occur in Virginia coastal waters, out of over 30 ocean dolphin species worldwide.  The Bottlenose Dolphin is the most common species off the Virginia coast, and it’s known to travel well upstream into rivers such as the Potomac and the James.

Scientists classify dolphins within the order of marine mammals called cetaceans, from a Greek word that means “large sea creature” or “huge fish.”  The cetacean order also includes whales and porpoises.  One porpoise species, the Harbor Porpoise, is known in Virginia waters.  Dolphins differ from porpoises in the shape of their body, beak, teeth, and top fin.  Along with whales and porpoises, dolphins have a high level of intelligence and a sophisticated use of sound for communication and navigation.  Dolphins make a variety of clicking, creaking, and whistling sounds, with individuals having their own, distinctive whistle.  Dolphins are also known for their social nature, traveling in pods that sometimes number in the hundreds.

The non-profit organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation has described dolphins as “highly mobile, powerful predators who hunt fast-moving fish, squid, and other sea creatures.”  If you go to Virginia’s Atlantic coast, here’s hoping your visit includes a view of these remarkable marine mammals.

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for the dolphin sounds.  Thanks also to Torrin Hallett for composing this week’s music for Virginia Water Radio, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “Dolphin Dialogues.”

MUSIC – ~20 sec – instrumental 


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The dolphin sounds heard in this Virginia Water Radio episode were taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Office, “Sounds in the Ocean,” online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/science-data/sounds-ocean, as of 9-10-20.

“Dolphin Dialogues” is copyright 2020 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  As of 2020-21, Torrin Hallett is a performance certificate candidate at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.  More information about Torrin is available online at https://competitiveedgetutoring.com/tutors/torrin-hallett/.  Click here if you would like to listen to “Dolphin Dialogues” in its entirety; it runs about 46 seconds. 

Following are other music pieces composed by Torrin Hallett for Virginia Water Radio, with episodes featuring the music.
“Beetle Ballet” – used in Episode 525, 5-18-20, on aquatic beetles.
“Chesapeake Bay Ballad” – in Episode 537, 8-10-20, on conditions in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Corona Cue” – used in Episode 517, 3-23-20, on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Geese Piece” – used most recently in Episode 440, 10-1-18, on E-bird.
“Lizard Lied” – used in Episode 514, 3-2-20, on lizards.
“New Year’s Water” – used in Episode 349, 1-2-17, on the New Year.
“Rain Refrain” – used most recently in Episode 455, 1-14-19, on record Virginia precipitation in 2019.
“Spider Strike” – used in Episode 523, 5-4-20, on fishing spiders.
“Tropical Tantrum” – used most recently in Episode 489, 9-9-19, on storm surge and Hurricane Dorian. “Turkey Tune” – used in Episode 343, 11-21-16, on the Wild Turkey. 

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Bottlenose Dolphins, photographed near Virginia Beach, Va., August 9, 2020.  Photo by Ty Smith, made available on iNaturalist at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56137254 (as of 9-10-20) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0.”  Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

Dolphins underwater.  Location and date not identified.  Photo by Adam Li, made available for public use by the NOAA Photo Library (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/U.S. Department of Commerce), online at https://photolib.noaa.gov/; specific URL for this photo was https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark/Killer-Whales-Dolphins/emodule/726/eitem/29322, as of 9-10-20.  Other dolphin photos in the NOAA Photo Library are available online at https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark/Killer-Whales-Dolphins/emodule/726/eitem/29307. 


Bottlenose Dolphin on the Banana River near Kennedy Space Center in Florida; photo date not identified.  Photo by the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov, accessed 9-10-20; specific URL for the photo was https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/natdiglib/id/9371/rec/1.


Following are the common and scientific names of dolphin and porpoise species known to occur in Virginia waters, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/.
Information on marine mammals, specifically, is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Report+BOVA&lastMenu=Home.Species+Information&tn=.1&geoArea=&sppName=&geoType=None&geoVal=no+selection&sppTax=12&status.

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Stenella frontalis
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus
Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
Harbor Porpoise, Phocena phocena
Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus), Grampus griseus
Rough-toothed Dolphin, Steno bredanensis
Saddleback Dolphin (called Short-beaked Common Dolphin in some other sources), Delphinus delphis
Spinner Dolphin, Stenella longirostris
Striped Dolphin, Stenella caeruleoalba 


Used for Audio

Richard A. Blaylock, The Marine Mammals of Virginia, Virginia Sea Grant Publication VSG-85-05, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 1985, online (as a PDF) at https://www.vims.edu/GreyLit/VIMS/EdSeries35.pdf. 

Chesapeake Dolphin Watch, online at https://chesapeakedolphinwatch.org/.

Alexander Costidis et al., “Introduction to the Virginia Marine Mammal Conservation Plan,” Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center/Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now Department of Wildlife Resources), VAQF Scientific Report 2017-02, online (as PDF) at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/CoastalZoneManagement/FundsInitiativesProjects/task95-02-15.pdf?ver=2018-07-13-141105-150.

Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson, Life in the Chesapeake Bay, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md. (2006); see pages 280-281. 

National Aquarium [Baltimore, Md.], “Dolphin Discovery,” online at https://aqua.org/explore/exhibits/dolphin-discovery.

National Ocean Service, “What’s the difference between dolphins and porpoises?” (no date given), online at https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/dolphin_porpoise.html

D.M Ranneft et al., “A guide to the pronunciation and meaning of cetacean taxonomic names,” Aquatic Mammals 2001, Vol. 27, No. 2, pages 183-195, online (as a PDF) at https://www.aquaticmammalsjournal.org/share/AquaticMammalsIssueArchives/2001/AquaticMammals_27-02/27-02_Ranneft.PDF.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, “[Dolphin] Communication and Echolocation,” online at https://seaworld.org/animals/all-about/bottlenose-dolphin/communication/

VirginiaBeach.com, Inc., “Dolphins,” online at https://www.virginiabeach.com/article/dolphins.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “List of Native and Naturalized fauna of Virginia,” as of April 2018, online (as a PDF) at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/virginia-native-naturalized-species.pdf.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation, “About Whales and Dolphins,” online at https://us.whales.org/whales-dolphins/.  This is the source of the quote in this episode’s audio.  “Dolphins—Meet the Different Species,” online at https://us.whales.org/whales-dolphins/dolphins/, asserts that there are 38 ocean dolphin species worldwide and four river dolphin species.  “Porpoises—Meet the Different Species,” online at https://us.whales.org/whales-dolphins/porpoises/, asserts that there are seven porpoise species worldwide.

For More Information about Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals in Virginia and Elsewhere

D.W. Linzey, The Mammals of Virginia, McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Va., 1998.

Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, online at https://www.sarasotadolphin.org/.  Sounds information, online at https://www.sarasotadolphin.org/intro-to-dolphin-conservation/dolphin-life/communication-acoustics/dolphin-sounds/.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at https://animaldiversity.org/

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), “Chesapeake Bay Mammals – A Guide to Selected Mammals in the Chesapeake Bay Region.” online at https://www.vims.edu/test/dlm/critters/mammals/index.php.  This source includes information on three marine mammals: Bottlenose Dolphin, Harbor Seal, and West Indian Manatee.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Mammals” subject category. 

A previous episode using a dolphin sound is Episode 540, 8-31-20.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”  

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
3.10 – impacts on survival of species, including effects of fire, flood, disease, and erosion on organisms; effects of human activity on air, water and habitat; and conservation and resource renewal.
4.9 – Virginia natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decisions, hazard mitigation, and cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Force, Motion, and Energy Theme
5.2 – sound creation, transmission, and use.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 – animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
3.4 – behavioral and physiological adaptations.  

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 – food webs.
3.6 – ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
4.5 – ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystems.
5.5 – cell structures and functions, organism classification, and organism traits.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring. 

Life Science Course
LS.4 – organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.9 – adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.
LS.11 – relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity. 

Earth Science Course
ES.10 – ocean processes, interactions, and policies affecting coastal zones, including Chesapeake Bay.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels. 

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.