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Data from: Behavioural laterality in foraging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Cite this dataset

Kaplan, Jennifer; Goodrich, Samantha; Melillo-Sweeting, Kelly; Reiss, Diana (2019). Data from: Behavioural laterality in foraging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Lateralized behaviour is found in humans and wide variety of other species. At a population level, lateralization of behaviour suggests hemispheric specialization may underlie this behaviour. As in other cetaceans, dolphins exhibit a strong right-side bias in foraging behaviour. Common bottlenose dolphins in The Bahamas utilise a foraging technique termed ‘crater feeding,’ in which they swim slowly along the ocean floor, scanning the substrate using echolocation, and then bury their rostrums into the sand to obtain prey. The bottlenose dolphins off Bimini, The Bahamas, frequently execute a sharp turn before burying their rostrums in the sand. Based on data collected from 2012 – 2018, we report a significant right-side (left turn) bias in these dolphins. Out of 709 turns recorded from at least 27 different individuals, 99.44% (n = 705) were to the left (right side and right eye down) [z=3.275, p=0.001]. Only one individual turned right (left side and left eye down, 4/4 turns). We hypothesize that this right-side bias may be due in part to the possible laterization of echolocation production mechanisms, the dolphins’ use of the right set of phonic lips to produce echolocation clicks, and a right eye (left hemisphere) advantage in visual discrimination and visuospatial processing.

Usage notes


The Bahamas