The idea of talking to dolphins has a long and chequered history. It was widely publicised in the 1960s by John Lilly, who argued that dolphins have such large brains that they must be extremely intelligent and have a natural language.
(D - or process plenty of sensory data.)
. “He said that in a few years, we will have established complex dialogue with them,” says Justin Gregg from the Dolphin Communication Project. “And he was saying that every few years.”
Lilly was right about dolphin intelligence, but not dolphin language. A true language involves small elements that combine into larger chains, to convey complex, and sometimes abstract, information. And there is no good evidence that dolphins have that, despite their rich repertoire of whistles and clicks...
Each individual has its own “signature whistle” which might act like a name. Developed in the first year of life, dolphins use these whistles as badges of identity, and may modulate them to reflect motivation and mood. This year, a study showed that when wild dolphins meet, one member of each group exchanges signature whistles.
But beyond this, dolphin chat is still largely mysterious.
(D - or they simply have distinctive voices. I do not need to name myself on a telephone.)