Australia’s Smart Dolphins
It was once thought that only man used tools. However, scientists have learned that some monkeys and even some birds use “tools.” Now we can add dolphins to the growing list of tool-users.
Researchers studying dolphins in Australia’s Shark Bay noticed that some dolphins were swimming around with sponges on their beaks. After some observation, both on the surface and beneath the water, scientists discovered what the dolphins were doing. Holding the sponges in their mouths, they would sweep the sea bottom sand, flushing out fish. Then they dropped the sponge and ate what they had flushed out. When they were finished eating, they retrieved their sponge and repeated the process. Researchers found that about 10 percent of the females obtained their food using sponges as tools. For some unknown reason, very few of the males used this method. Furthermore, most of the females using this method were related to two maternal tool-using dolphins. Researchers debate whether these two taught their descendants this method of obtaining fish or whether the behavior is based in genetics.
Since this is not a widespread behavior among dolphins, it seems likely that it is a learned behavior probably taught to younger relatives by the maternal dolphins. After all, dolphins are known to be very intelligent, and intelligence is a gift from their Creator.