Sure, dolphins are cute and can pull off some pretty impressive tricks. But under the squeaks and flipper-claps there lurks a brain bent on world domination and the enslavement of the human race. Okay... maybe it's not that bad. But the intelligence dolphins often exhibit sometimes makes us humans wonder just which species is doing the entertaining and which one is boss. For example:
10. Dolphins show compassion and are ultimately altruistic. There have been countless eyewitness testimonies of dolphins swimming to help surfers that have gone out too far or even those that have been attacked by sharks.
9. They mock us (in cute ways). One account from researchers states that at an aquarium, a young dolphin was watching a man pass by, smoking a cigarette. As soon as the man puffed out a jet of smoke, the little dolphin swam away quickly. Moments later, the same young dolphin swam back to where the man was standing and spit out a mouthful of its mother's milk, mimicking the smoker's behavior.
8. They can use tools and solve problems with them. On several occasions, researchers have observed dolphins using tools to provoke its dinner. For instance, when dinner just happens to be hiding under a rock in the form of an eel or small fish, dolphins will kill a scorpion fish or some other handy yet unfortunate fish, and use it to poke and prod at its dinner in order to force it to escape and, thus, be eaten.
7. When dolphins are presented with a TV or a presentation that shows a series of instructions, they are capable of performing the task they have just seen within a few hours. In some cases, it is nearly instantaneous. This same trick takes monkeys about a month to master.
6. They are self aware. Dolphins are one of a few animals that can look into a mirror and recognize not only other dolphins, but themselves as well.
5. It's no secret that dolphins can understand the language of some humans. But they can also make sense of sentence structure and order. For instance, "swat that frisbee" is an easy enough order for a dolphin to perform. But they can also understand a direction such as "swat that frisbee with your tail, jump over it, then swat it with your left fin" and perform it in that exact order. And yes... dolphins can perform a simple activity that some young children can't... telling their left from their right!
4. They are smooth talkers and are probably more romantic than you. Male dolphins will often "court" a female dolphin by bringing her bouquets made of ocean debris, sticks, seaweed and other debris. What's more is they will do it at all times of the year and not just on anniversaries.
3. They take teamwork with humans to a whole new level... when there is food involved. In parts of Brazil, there are documented cases where dolphins will swim up to a boat of fishermen and then, in a way, work to help them. The dolphins will seek out a school of fish and chase them in a herd-like way towards the fishermen's boat. The dolphins then feast on whatever fish manage to escape the fishermen's nets.
2. In a recent occurrence, a dolphin was used as a therapeutic device for a blind and deaf girl. The dolphin almost instantly understood that the girl could not hear or see. In order to communicate with her, the dolphin began to shake itself in the water, making a series of vibrations that allowed the girl to know where it was at all times.
1. They can fool us with common sense... and pass the tricks on to their kids. This can be seen in the example of a dolphin named Kelly that resides at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. The staff thought it would be a cute trick if they could train the dolphins to clean litter out of their pool. Many of the dolphins caught on quickly when they realized that they were being awarded food for each piece of litter they removed. Taking this to a whole new level, Kelly began finding litter and then using her mouth to tear one piece into two or three pieces, thus getting 3 fish for one piece of litter. When she realized her trainers were rewarding her for her cleverness, she then taught the trick to her calves. In turn, those calves taught the trick to to the other young dolphins. Kelly, meanwhile, has also been seen nabbing stray bits of litter during off hours and hiding it under rocks and props within the aquarium to later bring to her trainers when she wants an extra snack.