“Dolphins—Amazing Mammals of the Sea,” Friend, June 1992, 48
Are dolphins as smart as your little brother or sister? Many scientists think so. They think that dolphins are perhaps as smart as a seven-year-old! Researchers report that dolphins are some of the most intelligent creatures alive.
These water-dwelling mammals are part of God’s vast creation. They’ve fascinated us for hundreds of years. Have you seen a dolphin catch a ball in midair and balance it on its beak-like snout? Their thrilling jumps and graceful dives keep crowds on the edges of their seats. And fascinating stories are told of dolphins helping sailors, fishermen, and others in trouble.
Some people think that these friendly creatures can understand human thoughts and moods. And they are gentle and playful when humans swim with them. Dolphins seem to be attracted most to children, nuzzling up against them in the water or letting them ride on their silky smooth bodies.
Can dolphins talk? Click, whistle, burp! Squeak, rattle, chirp. Dolphins seem to speak a language unknown to man. High-sounding clicks are often used when a dolphin is finding its way through the water. Deep in the sea, where it’s dark, sound is a good way of communicating.
Each dolphin can be identified by his or her own “whistle voice.” It is as personal to a dolphin as your fingerprint is to you. Sometimes the whistles warn other dolphins of possible danger. Loud, sudden sounds followed by jaw-snapping and tail-slapping mean an angry dolphin. Sweet little chuckles are heard during contented, happy times.
Schools of dolphins may swim in a row, touching each other as they scan the water ahead with their ultrasounds. This scanning is called echolocation, and it works like a bat’s, only a dolphin’s sounds bounce off objects in the water.
Dolphins can zap their prey! If a dolphin’s loudest sounds were just a little louder, the sound waves would become hot. Now, that’s loud! A dolphin uses this strong beam of sound to zap little fish swimming along, making them dizzy and confused. Then the dolphin quickly scoops up its tasty dinner.
Do you think that this dangerous weapon could cause damage by accident? Dolphins never zap each other, even by mistake. When one dolphin comes near another with its echolocation going, that other dolphin will stop using its sonar, wait for the first one to pass, then start using its sonar again.
Dolphins apparently have excellent memories, especially for performing tricks. They are imitators of human words too. One researcher had a dolphin “talking” back to her. It also “counted” to ten!
Dolphins always seem to have smiles on their faces. But there are times when they appear to become bored with learning new tricks, and sometimes they even refuse to try to learn one. Some “pout” at the side of the pool after repeating a trick over and over again.
After spending time with people, many dolphins don’t want to return to the open sea. They seem to have a hard time leaving “friends” behind—just as you do when you change schools or move to another city.
Intelligent, friendly, clever, talkative, talented, heroic—dolphins are all these things and more. They truly are amazing mammals of the sea!