The dolphin is a quite fascinating marine species, and has been considered one of the smartest living animals. It is known for its sociable behavior and empathy, which demonstrates not only within its own species, but also with others.
Although intelligence is usually associated exclusively with humans, this animal exhibits behaviors that can be considered intelligent, something that has surprised scientists for the past decades.
Many people have heard about the cognitive abilities of this mammal, but most of them are unaware of some characteristics and curiosities regarding this cetacean.
Actually, the cognitive abilities of a species are closely related to the size of its brain. The larger this organ, the higher the intelligence. For this mammal, the average brain weight is about 15 lb. This means the second largest brain to body size ratio in the animal kingdom, which puts dolphins only after humans.
Needless to say, this organ structure is quite complex. In fact, dolphin brain is different from that of other mammals, which has allowed this species to successfully adapt to the aquatic environment. Unlike humans, dolphins employ multiple areas of the neocortex for processing hearing and visual information.
On the other hand, their paralimbic system is highly developed, so that they are able to process emotions and create close social bonds that favor their survival. According to various scientific studies, its cortex has a high synaptic density, a low density of neurons and a high encephalization ratio.
One of the aspects that has most puzzled scientists is the complexity of dolphin language. They make clicking and hissing sounds to communicate with each other. However, after 50 years of studies, it has not yet been possible to identify the basic units of vocalization.
However, it is known that they can scare away sharks and instruct their offspring using a series of sounds. They even seem to be able to communicate their mood and identify multiple elements. Indeed, an advanced language is essential for a highly sociable species that lives in a shoal.
Different investigations propose that they identify their peers with proper names, a characteristic that was believed to be exclusively human. Scientifics could demonstrate that dolphins call each other by different names using specific whistling sounds.
One of the most sociable animals
Cetaceans form solid social groups like no other species. When facing difficulties, the herd bonding they show is extraordinary. For instance, if one of the members falls ill and heads to shallow waters, the rest of the group goes with him. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why multiple stranding is often seen on beaches.
This behavior is a sign not only of their high cognitive evolution, but also of a high empathy for their peers. And it is worth noting that this empathy transcends its own species. They can understand when another creature is suffering and they usually come to its aid, something that has been observed in cases of whales that have been attacked by sharks.
Equally amazing is the ability to transmit knowledge to their peers. It has been observed that some dolphins in captivity, after having been taught some tricks or skills, were capable to pass that information along to a group, many of whose members later carried out those learned actions.
Moreover, their language seems to have noticeable variations among the different groups, which has led scientists to think of the existence of “dialects”. The teaching of hunting strategies, the care of other offspring, the mutual cooperation and friendly amusement are perfect examples of how developed their social interactions are.
Problem solving abilities
Intelligence is closely related to problem solving and adaptability. This animal has shown that it can use available resources it to achieve a goal. For example, it has been observed that they make use of sea sponges or other elements to search for food among corals.
They are also capable of using mud to make a fish trap, and they truly understand the need for teamwork to solve some problems. These all are strong examples that they have amazing cognitive abilities.
The best choice to dolphin watching in Tenerife
Undoubtedly, this is an extraordinary species: clever, friendly and amusing. That is the reason why dolphin watching has become one of the favorite tourist activities for those who visit the Canary Islands. People interested in ecotourism will find Picarus Sailing Club is a great option to have that amazing experience on any of their Tenerife boat trips.
Whether for dolphin or whale watching in Tenerife, Picarus Sailing Club is a renowned company that provides its clients with the most exciting sea tourism experience, encouraging sustainability and respect for animals and their habitat. All the crew are aware of the impact of human activities on the environment, so they make sure to comply with all regulations and laws.