Can Dolphins Detect Pregnancy in Women?

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Using a specific form of echolocation, dolphins may be able to detect the presence of a fetus inside a pregnant woman, experts say.

A dolphin can emit sounds that bounce off objects in the environment, returning to the dolphin and helping it identify its surroundings. This echolocation acts as a form of ultrasound, the same as the technology that doctors use to image developing human fetuses.

In one particular form of echolocation, a dolphin hones in on a subject by putting its snout directly up to it and buzzing. Dolphins have been known to take particular interest in pregnant women, buzzing near their stomachs. Some experts believe it may be possible that dolphins can detect the change in a familiar woman's echo profile when she becomes pregnant.

The ability of dolphins to detect human fetuses in the womb has not been scientifically proven, but studies have shown that they can perceive objects in boxes and through other barriers, so the idea that they could create an ultrasound image of a fetus in utero isn't so far-fetched.

"I think it's extremely plausible [dolphins] would be able to detect a fetus," said Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. "You'd have to really do a well-controlled study to make a definitive statement," she added.

Dolphins buzz pregnant dolphins as well as pregnant humans, so it only makes sense to believe they may be able to detect their own fetuses as well.


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I worked at Dolphin Cove for a time in amazing Dolphin experience! The answer is YES! While I was there, I knew of a few times when women swam with the dolphins and they were pregnant but not showing yet. The dolphins were circling them and gently poking their tummies. They are brilliant!

July 12 2013 at 12:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It's not a "fetus". It is a baby child. It's a human being that feels pain just like we do. If aol wasn't so radically liberal in its idealism, the headline would have been "Dolphins may be able to detect presence of " BABY" in a pregnant woman. It's funny that even in the feel good stories they still have an agenda.

July 12 2013 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to xrismontez's comment

And it's funny that the so-called "agenda" is all you could take away from this story.

July 12 2013 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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