New England Aquarium Whale Watchers got some pleasant surprises on today’s trip. They were treated to leaping Atlantic white-sided dolphins, grey seals and even warblers hopping on the boat.
Unfortunately there were also the unwelcome sight of plastic trash floating in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This is what happens when people release balloons without knowing they end up where animals can mistakenly choke on them. Help protect the oceans by not releasing your balloons, and letting others know that it’s a bad idea as well.
See the full report here.
Friendly dolphins help Brazilian fishermen to catch fish.
~ Top image: Tolomea/Flickr. Article content from io9.com
“We think of dolphins as playful — but they may also be more cunning than we ever realized. A subset of the dolphin population in Laguna, Brazil has started cooperating with human fishing expeditions. The dolphins will help people get better catches, in return for whatever the fisherman discard. They’ll drive schools of mullet towards the fisherman, and they even signal when and where to cast the nets.”
“Newly published research has looked at the dolphins who are helping out in this unique way. What the scientists discovered is that the sea mammals that cooperated with the humans were more social than the ones that didn’t, both within their own species, and with ours. The researchers believe this is to do with social learning practices, where these skills can be passed between the more connected dolphins.”
“What’s intriguing to me is how close this skirts to the origins of domestication. By cooperating with these select dolphins, we’re feeding them more, and giving them potentially a better chance at survival, and passing on the cooperative skills. Tell me that doesn’t sound like the first stages of what happened with dogs? Now we just need a few thousand years to breed them into the dolphin equivalent of a lapdog.”
Humans may have invented the spork, often seen at fast food joints, but a very clever group of bottlenose dolphins in Australia has created its own new combo tool that both captures fish and functions as a food bowl.
Use of the tool, described in a Murdoch University press release, is called “conching.” Dolphins first trap small fish in large conch shells with their rostrums (beaks). They then bring the shells to the surface and shake them. Like a strainer, this causes the water to drain out and sends the fish right into the dolphin’s mouth.
As we picked up speed, the dolphins came towards the bow, playing in its wake. Every once in a while one of us would give a loud whoop as off in the horizon we caught a glimpse of one of the breathtaking creatures breaking the surface to twirl in its characteristic spin.
Dolphins and language. Nifty story from @wiredsciblogs
Dolphins have large, sophisticated brains, elaborately developed in the areas linked to higher-order thinking. They have a complex social structure, form alliances, share duties and display personalities. Put a mirror in their tank and they can recognize themselves, indicating a sense of self.
When trained, they have a remarkable capacity to pick up language. At the Dolphin Institute in Hawaii, Louis Herman and his team taught dolphins hundreds of words using gestures and symbols. Dolphins, they found, could understand the difference between statements and questions, concepts like “none” or “absent,” and that changing word order changes the meaning of a sentence. Essentially, they get syntax.
Where do dolphins go? Now we know. Amazing satellite tag data: