Smart Dolphins

Allow me to quote the first three paragraphs of that story to provide some background for this unusual comparison.

First off, we learn that some dolphins have been trained to keep their pool clean by removing litter in exchange for fish:

At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

But Kelly has demonstrated that she’s figured out the system much as a clever child would:

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.

Fascinating, huh? Read the rest of the story here.

7 responses to “Smart Dolphins”

  1. Dolphins (and all animals) are definitely smart. Humans seem to sometimes forget that while we may be one of the most, if not THE most, complex creature, we’re definitely not the only intelligent one.

  2. I saw navy personal training harbor terrorist protection dolphins in San Diego. Near Point Loma. Pictures later.

  3. Most animals live in a completely different universe from us – I have known so many dogs in my life, who display such freaky psychich powers ( knowing that the phone is about to ring, knowing when someone has just left work etc etc) and an uncanny perception of what’s going on, that I fail to see how we view them as less complex at all. I’d give away all our ‘complex’ abilities to be political and start world wars for a bit of that psychic action!

  4. the navy has been granted permission for new sonar technology. this could be dangerous to the dolphins. and they navy doesnt seem to care. what if this turns out horribly wrong and the population of dolphin start to become extinct then will they care

    Dolphins are soooo smart and they are just adorable.

    if you want to get a hold of me about this comment
    email me at

    and i will get back to you when i can

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