As humans, we tend to misjudge the intelligence of other species around us. Our brains
are unique. We process emotion like few other creatures, but there are others like us. Many
people believe that humanity is the most superior regarding brain power, however, another
species may be just as smart as us. Like us, cetaceans have complex brains. Their abilities to communicate and process emotion may surpass our own abilities. Toothed whales and dolphins can echolocate. This is a form of communication that aids these creatures in locating targets. They emit sounds that travel through the water and reflect off
a target sometimes a great distance away (NOAA). It is a dolphin’s form of sonar. Just like our mechanical sonar that allows us to locate ships or other objects a cetacean can seek out food. It is a great advantage over us. Sure, we have sonar capabilities but they are not hardwired into our bodies. Dolphins can learn information from echolocating that can be shared amongst the pod.
According to Madison Montgomery, they can send an auditory image to another dolphin and show each other what the prey looks like. This would be the equivalent to us describing something to someone else or drawing out what we mean. This ability is far superior to any form of communication we humans use. Compared to the creatures we are essentially blind to the environment around us. A dolphin does not have to rely on their eyes alone. With echolocation, they can determine the speed and size of an object as well as certain structures which can benefit them in navigating through cloudy waters. (Wonderopolis). Their abilities in this form of communication rival our own natural abilities. Contrary to what we believe, animals have emotions just like we do. It is a popular belief that animals have no emotions that feeling is strictly a human trait. This is not the case. Cetaceans are emotional creatures much like humans. They may have emotions that are more complex than our own.
Lori Marino studied the brains of killer whales and found that the part of their brains that deals with emotions are a part that we lack. (BBC) It is believed that this part of the brain deals with not only emotion but the ability to communicate socially and be self-aware (Montgomery). The most commonly observed emotion in dolphins is grief a very humanlike, relatable sensation. Scientists have noted several occasions where dolphins will lift their dead up to the surface of the water. The act has been described as a sort of funerary custom in dolphins (Walters). It takes an intelligent being to understand the concept of death and grief. While scientists hesitate to say any other creature possess emotions, it is clear that these animals feel just like we do. Humans have long admired cetaceans and they seem to be just as curious about us as we are about them. Perhaps this is because we recognize each other’s intelligence. Each species can find a likeness in the other. It may be the time we recognize these beings as equals, and give their intelligence the credit it deserves.
Heather Weller, Plea for the Sea
Montgomery, Madison. “Still Think Humans are the Most Intelligent Animals? Here’s
Why Whales and Dolphins Have us Beat.” One Green Planet. 8 July 2017. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.
“What do you know about toothed whale echolocation?” NOAA. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.
“How do Dolphins Use Echolocation?” Wonderopolis. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.
Walters, Marino Jennifer. “Do Dolphins Have Feelings?” Scholastic. 13 Feb. 2015.
Web. 12 Sept. 2017.
“Dolphins deserve same rights as humans, say scientists.” BBC. 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 12