On January 23, 2013 a lone dolphin asks for help from a group of recreational divers because it was tangled in a fishing line. Slightly surprised, the divers beckon the dolphin over and assist in removing a hook and freeing enough line to allow the dolphin greater range of motion.
While the amazing video encounter between the divers and the dolphin serves as both a heartwarming video and an unforgettable experience for the divers, it raises questions about animal intelligence and inter-species communication. Are dolphins aware enough of themselves to appreciate the limits of their own abilities? Can a dolphin know when and how to ask for help from humans? The evidence seems to point to yes. At one point during the encounter the dolphin surfaces for a breath of air and then voluntarily returns to the divers so that they can finish the untangling process, suggesting that the dolphin was fully aware of the situation.
“Dolphins are Smart”
According to Professor of Psychology at Hunter College Diane Reiss, “Dolphins are smart. Their brains are big, and complex – packed with neurons much like our brains. Dolphins show complexity in their social interaction, they help each other in foraging…for years there have been reports about humans being saved by dolphins. There are old Greek tales of dolphins saving humans, as well as modern day stories of dolphins coming to the aid of humans”.
Though a conclusive reason for the dolphin’s actions may not exist, thanks to help from the divers it will live on to swim another day.
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