Dolphins May Detect Fetus in Pregnant Women, Study Says

September 1, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. sound wave [sound-weyv] (n.) – a wave that transmits or carries sound
Example: Dolphins use sound waves to communicate under the water.

2. speculate [SPEK-yuh-leyt] (v.) – to think and guess about something without knowing the complete facts
Example: The scientists speculated that dolphins can communicate well with each other.

3. opaque [oh-PEYK] (adj.) – not transparent; does not allow light to pass through
Example: He covered the container with an opaque cap to protect it against sun light.

4. carnivore [KAHR-nuh-vawr, -vohr] (n.) – an animal that feeds on the flesh of other animals
Example:  Most carnivores have sharp teeth specialized for eating flesh.

5. anecdotal [AN-ik-doht-l, an-ik-DOHT-l] (adj.) – based on personal observation rather than facts
Example: Scientists did not agree with the report that was based on anecdotal testimonies.


Read the text below.
Some scientists speculate that dolphins may be able to sense the fetus inside a pregnant woman.

This phenomenon seems possible due to echolocation, an ability that helps dolphins navigate and communicate under water through sounds. It also helps these mammals identify shapes and locations of objects. It works very much like an ultrasound machine used by doctors to detect and see a developing human fetus inside a mother’s womb.

Dolphins emit sound waves and listen to the echo to make sense of their environment.  According to Malcolm Nicolson from the University of Glasgow, dolphins may be able to detect the difference in the echo of a woman before and during pregnancy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that dolphins sometimes swim up to expectant mothers and make buzzing sounds near the women's stomachs.

Also, neuroscientist [noor-oh-SAHY-uhn-tist, nyoor-] Lori Marino believes that dolphins may be able to use their sound waves to help diagnose and treat diseases since they can detect tumors in humans. However, further research is still needed to prove this claim.

Previous studies have also shown that dolphins can perceive shapes through an opaque barrier, allowing them to distinguish a human form in a pregnant woman’s womb. However, experts stressed that giving birth near a dolphin may be highly dangerous and is therefore not recommended.

Marino warned that giving birth near a dolphin is not advisable because dolphins are carnivores. Thus, dolphins can become instinctively aggressive, which may then risk the lives of the pregnant mother and her baby. 

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, is it really possible for dolphins to have such ability to see the fetus of a pregnant mother? Please explain your answer.
·         How can this kind of study help humans, as well as dolphins? Why do you think so?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think studying the behavior of marine animals and how they react around human is important?
·         In your opinion, what can be the disadvantages of studying the behavior of marine animals? Please explain your answer.


September 1, 2013