Wednesday Word of the Week: Echolocation

The MWW Blog is launching a new series called “Wednesday Word of the Week.” This feature will contribute to our ongoing work educating the public about geo-literacy–the ability to use geographic knowledge to make informed decisions about the dynamic world we live in. Geo-literacy is a relevant, applicable, and global tool; it is a communicative bridge between the peoples, places and possibilities of our earth.

Echolocation: [biological geography]
Noun: the sonarlike system used by dolphins, bats, and other animals to detect and locate objects by emitting usually high-pitched sounds that reflect off the object and return to the animal’s ears or other sensory receptors. (

Beyond hunting prey, dolphins can also use echolocation to “carry all sorts of complex information about whether a dolphin is pregnant, what mood it’s in, and what’s around it,” (Steve Dawson, a marine mammal researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand)

2011-10-04_1216203.JPGEcholocation has even been researched in humans! Check out this short video from National Geographic to learn more about the science behind our Wednesday word of the week.

This Wednesday’s word of the week is inspired by National Geographic Young Explorer, Eric Patterson, and his graduate research on tool use among dolphin populations. According to Eric, “dolphins are well known for their exquisite echolocation abilities, which enable them to detect and discriminate prey species and even locate buried prey.” Check out the link above to read more on Eric’s amazing research project!

The Wednesday Word of the Week is just one way to start expanding the
breadth of your geographic vocabulary. Some words you’ll recognize, and
some will be new. Regardless of whether you know the word or not, we at
National Geographic Education challenge you to use our words of the
week.  Whether in the classroom, in everyday conversation, through the
arts, or simply by checking out our provided links, we encourage you to
make great use of our words in creative ways!

Photo Credits: Your Shot, Alex Kaufman
–Julia from My Wonderful World

3 thoughts on “Wednesday Word of the Week: Echolocation

  1. Well I hope that your project goes really well. I love the piture of the dolphin!!!

  2. Best of luck to your geo-literacy campaign and to your “WEDNESDAY WORD OF THE WEEK.”

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