A team of researchers exposed a group of dolphins to different ‘cultural’ stimuli to see how they affected their behavior, and only the music managed to ‘move’ the cetaceans.
Scientists at the University of Padua, in Italy, have discovered that the behavior of the dolphins changes, and for the better, when they listen to classical music. Specifically, they found that after being exposed to works by composers such as Debussy and Beethoven, these marine mammals were calmer and more sociable, according to Applied Animal Behavior Science.
As part of the experiment , the researchers monitored the behavior of eight bottlenose dolphins from the Riccione dolphinarium in eastern Italy. The group was made up of five females and three males aged between 5 and 49 years, three of which had been born in the wild.
The test consisted of providing the cetaceans with different stimuli for 20 minutes a day, seven days for each type of stimulus. Its effect was assessed by observing changes in the behaviors expressed during or shortly after the stimulus.
The playlist through an underwater loudspeaker included the Prelude and the Fugue in C Bach major, ‘The Morning’ from Edvard Grieg’s opera Peer Gynt, ‘The Swan’ from Saint-Saens’s ‘Carnival of the Animals’ suite, Debussy’s ‘Reflections in Water’ and Beethoven’s ‘Fantasia’ .
On other days, the dolphins were shown the sound of rain or shown slides of photographs on screens placed under water.
However, only classical music managed to increase several social behaviors. The dolphins subjected to the experiment reacted to classical music in a special way: they became more sociable, showed more interest in each other and spent more time together swimming in sync.
According to scientists, classical music stimulates the production of natural chemical compounds in the dolphins’ bodies that affect mood, such as endorphins. These hormones act in the brain to stimulate a feeling of euphoria and, as they do in many other animal species, in dolphins they increased the propensity to communicate.
The authors of the study concluded that listening to classical music can be useful to de-stress animals or improve social behavior.