This Real Wild documentary takes you on a scientific journey into the complex world of the dolphin. Professor Paul Manger Investigates the recent assertion that dolphins are not as smart as we think. Using a variety of tests and observations in the wild, we illustrate how their IQ comes into play and scores on the charts.
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few creatures in the animal kingdom command as much respect as the dolphin with their grace and seeming eagerness to entertain they capture the imagination and affection of almost everyone above all it is their apparent.
Intelligence which makes them so endearing it's claimed you need only look into a dolphin's eyes to recognize the spark of intellect but now a new scientific study says otherwise the previous assumptions that these animals are very intelligent are.
Actually quite wrong are dolphins really as bright as we think they are as a neuroscientist professor paul manga of johannesburg university stands alone he's at the center of a controversy based on dolphin intelligence he's recently released a detailed study.
Suggesting that dolphins aren't nearly as clever as we think this is completely at odds with our traditional perception and it makes us feel uneasy for as long as we can remember mankind has enjoyed a close affinity with dolphins.
This link is a curious one why do we crave it swimming with dolphins in the wild has always been an emotional experience sharing their environment and actually getting a response from them is one of the greatest privileges for a human.
Which is why professor manga's opinion is so hard to deal with he relies on cold facts on brain structure and neuron complexity his extensive research has led him to the conclusion that the dolphins brain simply isn't equipped for intelligent thought.
Dumber than a goldfish were his exact words a lot of people consider the dolphin to be second only in intelligence to humans in my view judging from the structure of their brain they're not as intelligent as any other mammals or any other vertebrates in fact his findings have unleashed a storm of protest from animal.
Behaviorists and scientists but the controversy has given rise to some basic questions firstly in an ever developing complex world of technology and science how do we actually assess intelligence or intelligent behavior intelligence is a term with a number of definitions.
As humans we can have spatial intelligence we can be intelligent communicators or we can be mathematically gifted academics have assigned a number of different attributes to intelligence but how do we wade through these when dealing with dolphins larger brains have always been.
Associated with greater intelligence humans and primates have the largest brain relative to their body size and this is known as the encephalization quotient humans have the highest brain size relative to body size of all animals and we consider that to be the basis of our cognitive abilities.
Dolphins and the other smaller citations have the second highest brain size relative to their body size so apart from humans dolphins have the biggest brain to body size of any animal on the planet this should be a strong indication of their higher intelligence but when professor manga.
Looks at the structure of the dolphin brain the theory begins to fall apart usually animals that have larger brains relative to their body size have more neurons spare and they can use those for higher cognitive behaviors or more flexible behaviors when you look at the dolphin brain you see that a lot of.
Their brain is actually made up of glia and this makes the brain large relative to their body size glia are housekeeping cells responsible for keeping the neurons within the brain warm and functional dolphins are mammals like us warm blooded and in many parts of the ocean they're under huge thermal pressure.
They lose heat rapidly to the surrounding water and especially for those species that live in the southern ocean maintaining this heat is all important if a human fell into the water here it would take 15 to 30 minutes to lose brain function and drowning would follow.
While fat insulates the body the glia cells take care of the neural network in the brain just because a dolphin has a large relative brain size it does not mean that it's there for higher cognitive functions an opposing opinion comes from angie gullen.
She's been working alongside and closely interacting with wild bottlenose dolphins for most of her life she's a highly experienced observer of dolphin behavior and runs a dolphin encounters facility in pontadora in the south of mozambique the warm blue waters here provide the.
Perfect place for humans to interact with the ocean's wild inhabitants each year thousands of people come to swim with the dolphins manta rays and whale sharks the coastline is fringed by extensive coral reefs ensuring the waters of the bay stay relatively calm for most of the.
Year every day angie launches her boat and meets with the dolphins in open water she's conducted a detailed identification study for 15 years she's got to know each member in the pods and their movements and behavior the dolphins choose when and how to interact with her.
She has her finger on the pulse of wild dolphin activity here which gives her a very different perspective on dolphin intelligence what professor manga deduces from the structure of the brain angie senses feels and observes.
When one is in the water interacting with the dolphins it's almost as if time stands still one definitely feels a profound connection with them they swim eye to eye with you and they make a point of actually connecting with you.
After spending so many hours in the water with them and in the company of them i can definitely pick up that there is a quite a profound level of intelligence we have what we call conscious interaction and this is where the animal actually stops what they're doing and they come in and they interact with you.
There's no feeding there's no coaxing this dolphin has come to be with you for a specific reason whatever that reason may be without a doubt there's a level of recognition and there's a level of trust and there's most certainly a level of compassion and all this definitely in my opinion makes them highly intelligent.
I think the dolphins brain is that size for a reason one just has to look at dolphins in captivity and it's quite common knowledge that it's actually the dolphins that train the trainers dr vick pedimores is a world-renowned marine biologist and behaviorist he has an exceptional knowledge of.
Cetaceans and he'll help explore or dispel some of the myths surrounding dolphin intelligence it's really interesting these these studies that have come out saying that the brain lacks the complexity of of the human brain for example but as an animal behaviorist i i'm not convinced that that you should only be.
Going on anatomy dr pedimores has a balanced view he's dealt with captive dolphins but also has a detailed understanding of dolphin behavior and hunting strategy in the wild he wants to look at how well dolphins perform in different circumstances and draws his conclusions about their.
Intelligence from this most other scientists agree with dr petamores but science always throws up the unexpected and professor manga sticks to his guns about dolphin iq if we were to judge the intellectual abilities of the dolphin by the.
Structure of its brain we would consider their intellectual abilities to be far less than any other manner so in humans we have what's known as an expanded frontal lobe that's the part of the brain sitting above our eyes this part of our brain is involved in higher cognitive functions and executive decision making it also deals with.
Problem solving personality goal orientated behavior and other deep thought processes when we look at the neocortex of the dolphin we see that for its brain size it's actually quite small only about 40 percent of its brain is near cortex whereas in the human for example 80 of our brain is near cortex but it's not only the neocortex that's.
Apparently holding back the abilities of the dolphin there is also evidence in the structure of the brain's neurons despite seeming to have complex and intelligent behaviors when you look at the brain of the dolphin you see that the neurons aren't complex and this will compromise the ability of the brain to produce complex behavior.
The dendrites are the part of the cell that receive incoming information when we look at the complexity of the dendrites in a dolphin brain we see that they're shorter and less branched than in other mammals so with shorter and less bronze dendrites less processing can occur this will then impact on their ability.
To process neural information but many people would say this theory simply does not bear any relation to reality to find answers we need to look beyond physiology and the ongoing scientific argument and focus our attention instead on what goes on in the world of the.
Dolphin both captive and wild they are incredibly complex creatures they form tight social units and their communication is elaborate for the most part they function in pods that are essentially extended family groups the bonds between members of the pod are.
Close and this is crucial to their success and survival typically dolphins have ranges and roaming groups of males cross paths with maternal pods this is when mating takes place it can take up to 12 years for a dolphin to become sexually mature.
and when this time comes the pod of males jostle for position they follow the female down to the sea floor the behavior continues at depth and after competing with each other.
The most dominant male will mate with her first and then the others will get their chance too the gestation period for a dolphin is 12 months a single fetus is formed inside the womb long gestations are generally associated.
With higher intelligence birth is tedious and labored but the baby is up and running immediately young dolphins stay close to mum for up to four years.
Mimicking and mirroring her every move this is where extensive learning takes place and the first bits of intelligent behavior are absorbed the calf suckles for 18 months there's a lot of maternal investment during this period to fit in young dolphins must learn about the conventions and rules of their.
Society and who's who in the pod as young dolphins grow they build up a network of relationships ranging from the strong bond with their mother to numerous casual friendships with the other pod members but how are these relationships cemented is mere mimicry the building block of dolphin society.
Some of vic's exercises and experiments in captivity attempt to assess the capacity of the dolphin to think beyond what it's taught to think in human terms to think laterally traditionally trainers used to teach dolphins behaviors by giving rewards if the trick was done correctly but new training techniques have come.
Into play where the trainer encourages the dolphin to engage in creative behavior and the dolphin then gets rewarded in so doing the dolphins not only enjoy themselves but new tricks emerge from their own creative process gambit is the oldest dolphin at durban aquarium.
And many of the trainers claim that he expresses superior intelligence and creativity but professor manga holds his ground it's purely stimulus response conditioning the features of the dolphin shows are more a reflection of the abilities and the persistence of the trainers rather than the intellectual.
Ability of the dolphins but at face value it does seem that some dolphins are more creative than others gambit is a prime example they have got individual personalities they have got individual abilities some are smarter than others there's no two ways about it studies of bottlenose dolphins have.
Documented the various facets of their intellectual abilities but they go beyond mimicking from memory here in captivity they seem to understand the concept of imitation they're also the only mammal other than humans that are capable of both vocal and behavioral mimicry imitation is already regarded as one of.
The highest forms of social learning and imitation is the most efficient way of passing on information in dolphin society i think dolphins are readily trainable like like most mammals i mean i've seen videos of cats riding unicycles i've spent time in aquarium for dolphins and whales and i don't see them do anything particularly amazing.
Back in mozambique angie gullen facilitates dolphin swims and today she's taking world-renowned animal communicator anna breitenbach out to the pods anna is a qualified inter-species communicator from the renowned assisi institute in oakland california.
She's worked with many organizations worldwide to solve a variety of practical animal issues with much success she is able to connect with animals using intuition and telepathy and understands how they think and what they feel her ability and her methods are.
Unexplained by science but in many cases so are the amazing results of her work both anna and angie maintain that these animals apart from being highly intelligent have physiological as well as psychological healing effects on humans.
it doesn't take long before the dolphins appear over the years i've worked with many many people that have come down to interact with the dolphins more on a healing kind of a basis for me it's really quite interesting.
Because it's not all individuals that choose to consciously interact with us it's definitely a select few why are we so emotively drawn to wild dolphins for anna it's really quite simple there's an intelligent being in there.
Who has thoughts and feelings emotions the ability to direct their own behavior and what i've experienced from dolphins individually and collectively is that they seem quite intentional in their wish to work with human consciousness they engage with us they are involved in some sort of transmission with us that.
Is sometimes quite mysterious and they can't even be words scientists have dismissed this apparent healing effect as a result of endorphins the body's natural painkilling hormone which are released when we're excited cynics would say that interacting with a dog cat or horse may produce a similar effect.
Some new age practitioners however believe that dolphins act as channels of key the life energy associated with feng shui reiki and tai chi whatever it is the connection remains unexplained but it's clearly infectious phenomenal wow you know one can't really pinpoint.
Exactly what it is that the dolphin does but there definitely seems to be a level of enlightenment that comes out of interacting with dolphins and i think that this kind of interaction allows for some kind of healing to take place on various levels professor manga remains unconvinced that that to me is.
Is is really quite bizarre the biggest difference in perception of dolphins lies between the scientific and the esoteric between the explained and the unexplained for many cultures across the world whales and dolphins are associated with divine powers and are seen as superior.
Beings many stories of dolphins coming to the rescue of humans have been recorded they have been known to form a protective cordon around swimmers who are being harassed by sharks but perhaps the most famous incident involved a pod that saved the renowned french yachtsman bernard muytisier from.
Crashing into hidden rocks according to his testimony they helped to warn him away from the danger by repeatedly swimming to the front of his boat and veering sharply off to the right muytisier eventually followed their example narrowly avoiding the submerged rocks.
So for many of us the myth and emotion of the dolphin human bond seems to override the scientific facts regarding their brain structure we make an emotional connection with them because we recognize qualities that hint at our own intelligence but could our narcissism be blinding us.
To the real facts on how clever dolphins are i think emotionally intelligent could also mean the amount of fun they have interacting with with people as well if they weren't intelligent well you know why would they want to come in and socialize and direct approach us the major idea that i don't believe in.
The intelligence of dolphins is based in the structure of their brain but also when you start to look at the behaviors the people propose us intelligent you can see first of all other they're common to all mammals or two they're actually misinterpreting the behaviors the middle ground seems to lie between hard biology and emotional attachment.
some scientists base intelligence on the ability of a species to recognize what it needs to survive while other schools of thought believe the ability to communicate or the ability to exhibit playfulness are the indicators.
Humans engage in play too and our leisure time often draws us to the ocean here dolphins and humans share common ground both like to surf on some posts it's common for dolphins to join surfers as they both ride the.
Surge of peaking swells whether the dolphins agenda is connecting with humans or just engaging in natural play is debatable but we do know they play regardless of human presence playing is said to be the product of an.
Inventive brain and it's believed that it helps strengthen bonds in the pod to survive in such an active and social environment dolphins need something extra to interact with each other accurately.
A closer look at their brain does reveal something unique much of the dolphins large brain is taken up with echolocation and handling acoustical information when we look at the dolphin brain there's two features of the brain that are actually specialized one is an unusual structure called nucleus ellipticus it's found in.
The brain stem it's only found in elephants and in dolphins according to professor manga this part of the brain appears to be related to vocalization like dolphins elephants are highly sociable and very specialized communicators.
They use infrasonic rumbles some of these sounds are too low for the human ear to pick up scientists are discovering new meaning behind these rumbles and believe they are a form of speech the area of the brain that produces vocalization in elephants and dolphins is quite different to what we see in.
Humans where the neocortex generates our vocalizations in the dolphin this area is low on the brain stem and is not normally associated with higher intellect what this unusual lobe amounts to is a highly complicated communication management computer it enables the dolphin to use acoustics.
For a number of purposes sound travels five times faster in water so for any creature wanting to communicate efficiently underwater using complex acoustics is the way forward dolphins use clicks and whistles to talk to each other some species have a signature whistle which like a name is a unique sound that.
Allows other dolphins to identify it acoustics aren't just used for communication an array of clicks is also the crucial element in its surveillance arsenal dolphins have evolved an ability to seek out prey using echolocation the clicks are made in the nasal sacs situated just behind the forehead.
An area called the melon each high frequency click is passed through the melon which acts as an amplifier to direct the sound in front of the animal like a searchlight the focused clicks hit an object and that sound wave bounces back towards the pan bone in the lower jaw once the brain has received this.
Information the dolphin sends out another click this way the dolphin can build a profile of the object or animal in front of it by the time lapse between click and echo sound travels at different speeds depending on water temperature so the dolphin has to calculate this.
Offset to be truly accurate man's first attempt to develop sonar and echolocation was initially recorded by leonardo da vinci in 1490 but dolphins have been perfecting their acoustic skills over millions of years they are clearly the most adept creature.
In the ocean at using it to their advantage instead of learning to use tools and reason their focus has been on communication the result is a dolphin society where communication is needed to organize one.
Another and wider pod relationships they have to hunt communally and they have to be on the lookout for predators if they don't work as a unit their lives become far more difficult in the wild young dolphins not only copy and learn.
From their mothers they pick up the social skills to fit perfectly into highly synchronized groups which sometimes number in their thousands coordinating a group this size with vocalization is something humans haven't managed but dolphins do it every day this is the one thing that science.
Acknowledges dolphins are super communicators at this point we've looked at scientific research dolphin communication and public opinion but what happens when we shift our attention to dolphins hunting and.
Operating at their full potential on the east coast of southern africa a cold stream of water serves up the biggest dolphin buffet on earth millions of tiny fish mass together carried by the current and they become pushed up against the coast the response from the dolphins is.
Extraordinary small pods of bottlenose dolphins begin to travel towards the arriving shoals they join forces until megapods of thousands are formed they move in massive lines across the ocean other citations join the bottlenose.
False killer whales fit into their attack lines common dolphins swim in the biggest pods and they don't mix with other species beneath the surface a network of communication rapidly unfolds faster than a human can process the dolphin army is preparing for the attack.
These commodores swim in these massive lines across the ocean they're obviously just looking for fish as they sweep through the ocean we've estimated that there's about 20 000 common dolphins that work on the sardine run at this time of the year as the pods approach the sardines they.
Organize themselves into tight hunting lines when the lookout dolphin locates the sardine shoal the entire pod turns on its axis with military precision and works as one to guide the shoal to the surface this is when one of the most amazing examples of cooperative behavior takes.
Place smaller teams of dolphins carve off a section of the main shoal the sardines are herded into a ball their escape routes are cut off by bubbles and noise which confuse the fish the dolphins are very much in control.
they are the driving force behind the formation of the bait balls big groups of dolphins like this require a lot of coordination and a lot of skill to ensure their hunting strategy is effective once the bait ball is stable.
The various groups take turns to whip through the fish grabbing mouth balls before other teams reform the ball a wonderful organized rhythm is formed and the sardines are picked off until very few are left all over the ocean bait balls are formed and devoured with the same complex.
System being used our research is actually trying to unravel how common dolphins control the sardine right how are the interactions with them the sharks the birds how does that all come together to form the spectacle on the east coast of south africa sharks use the dolphins organizational.
Ability to also get a piece of the pie as the dolphins whirl around the bait ball cape gannitz launch their attack from the air the social intelligence that must be going on.
To keep groups coordinated synchronize their movements to enable them to feed successfully as one of the top predators in the marine food web it's more than just chance they're pretty smart the sardine run is a perfect environment for the dolphin calves to start learning.
How to catch fish at around six months old these common dolphins soon become expert hunters in their own right adding to the efficiency of the pod the social power of this species is quite evident in their hunting strategy they're gifted communicators even by human standards.
This is what they excel at the more communal a dolphin species the more impressive its behavior vic's own research on brain scans has found that dolphins which live in big groups like common dolphins have far more grey matter in the brain than dolphins that live in smaller groups pod size seems important in how.
Developed the gray matter in the brain is for dolphins the most important thing seems to be social stimulation it's in this area where they realize their full potential perhaps they display a certain element of this in their human contacts.
Gambit is undisputedly the most intelligent dolphin at durban aquarium but he's also the only one that was originally a wild dolphin he still carries the benefit of social stimulation from his wild pod while keeping dolphins in captivity remains controversial.
There is no doubt that gambit is a great ambassador for the well-being of dolphin populations all over the world when my study first came out several people wrote to me and said that this would be the death of whales and dolphins across the world this isn't the case just because an animal may not be.
Intelligent it doesn't mean that they're not worth preserving for biodiversity for everyone as a whole across the globe in terms of conserving animals we have to understand the animals from what they are not what we'd like to think they are if we try to make management plans based on what we think they are and know what they actually are then we're going to.
Make mistakes and we're going to cause problems to these animals as the controversy rages on in the scientific community one thing remains clear virtually everyone considers dolphins to be extremely valuable creatures and a great point of access to marine.
Well-being but have we given them powers they simply don't possess how do we balance our assumptions knowing what science has stated i do what i do for the love of dolphins you know every morning i wake up and i can't wait to get out to see to learn.
From them they teach us so much despite its physiology the dolphin is supremely successful at what it needs to do to survive it fits within a challenging environment extremely well and complements other creatures that.
Share its realm if intelligence is based on adapting to our environment alongside our competitors then who has succeeded the dolphin or the human whose life plan.
Will outlive the other you
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