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Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:14 PM

Dolphins form life raft to help dying friend

Everybody's favourite cetacean just got a little more lovable. For the first time, dolphins have been spotted teaming up to try to rescue an injured group member. The act does not necessarily mean dolphins are selfless or can empathise with the pain of their kin, however.

Kyum Park of the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan, South Korea, and colleagues were surveying cetaceans in the Sea of Japan in June 2008. They spent a day following a group of about 400 long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis).

In the late morning they noticed that about 12 dolphins were swimming very close together. One female was in difficulties: it was wriggling and tipping from side to side, sometimes turning upside-down. Its pectoral flippers seemed to be paralysed.

Life raft

The other dolphins crowded around it, often diving beneath it and supporting it from below. After about 30 minutes, the dolphins formed into an impromptu raft: they swam side by side with the injured female on their backs. By keeping the injured female above water, they may have helped it to breathe, avoiding drowning.

more with video

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23108-dolphins-form-life-raft-to-help-dying-friend.html

38 replies, 3617 views

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Arrow 38 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dolphins form life raft to help dying friend (Original post)
n2doc Jan 2013 OP
polly7 Jan 2013 #1
2naSalit Jan 2013 #2
Mojorabbit Jan 2013 #4
BrotherIvan Jan 2013 #5
Skip Intro Jan 2013 #6
robinlynne Jan 2013 #7
DogPawsBiscuitsNGrav Jan 2013 #8
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2013 #9
Fawke Em Jan 2013 #14
Duppers Jan 2013 #11
BlancheSplanchnik Jan 2013 #23
LittleBlue Jan 2013 #25
yardwork Jan 2013 #36
xchrom Jan 2013 #3
Exultant Democracy Jan 2013 #10
ohheckyeah Jan 2013 #15
Exultant Democracy Jan 2013 #16
ohheckyeah Jan 2013 #18
JoeBlowToo Jan 2013 #12
FarrenH Jan 2013 #13
glowing Jan 2013 #17
2naSalit Jan 2013 #22
woo me with science Jan 2013 #26
2naSalit Jan 2013 #31
Jamastiene Jan 2013 #19
BlancheSplanchnik Jan 2013 #24
smirkymonkey Jan 2013 #20
gulliver Jan 2013 #21
FarrenH Jan 2013 #27
Trascoli Jan 2013 #28
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #30
bettyellen Jan 2013 #32
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #33
bettyellen Jan 2013 #34
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #35
bettyellen Jan 2013 #37
NoOneMan Jan 2013 #38
dballance Jan 2013 #29

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:15 PM

1. Awww ..

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:45 PM

2. I find it troubling

how we humans under estimate and under value the intellect of other species. I guess that many do so in order to be able to justify their ignorance of this intellect of "others" so that harming and/or killing them appears to be of no consequence... like we do to people of other cultures so we can make wars against them and killing them seems justified.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:58 PM

4. +100 nt

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:05 PM

5. Me too!

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:19 PM

6. +100.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 01:32 PM

7. +1

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:03 PM

8. + 100

 

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:07 PM

9. We share our home with two conures

When Tuky died, our cockatiel, we saw real grief from cookie, his lifetime partner. That was it, none can tell me other creatures are incapable of emotion or empathy.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:16 PM

14. My Chihuahua and my Cocker miss each other on days the Cocker

has to go to "the beauty shop."

In fact, when I went to pick up Charlie from the groomer, I brought Gordy with me so he could get his nails clipped. When the groomer took him to the back, Charlie, who was caged, saw him and a symphony of "happy barks" could be heard all over the shop.

It's really sweet.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:38 PM

11. another +100

Well said!

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:40 AM

23. so with you on this.

Thanks for putting it into words.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 02:00 AM

25. Spot on

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:03 PM

36. I agree and I see two examples of this in the article itself.

First, in the very beginning of the article is an immediate disclaimer stating that this behavior doesn't necessarily mean that dolphins are selfless or empathetic. Oh really? Seems like evidence of exactly that to me.

Second, throughout the article they refer to the female dolphin as "it." Why? She's been identified as female. Say "she."


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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:51 PM

3. Du rec. Nt

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 02:25 PM

10. They are a little too human, watching how the bottlenose for example treat other dolphins

probably helps illustrate the horror that Neanderthals and our other closely related species faced before we finished killing them off. Gang raped, killed and eaten (and not always in that order) into extinction.

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Response to Exultant Democracy (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:24 PM

15. Have you seen the special Decoding Neanderthals?

Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, according to the special, interbred. They have found Neanderthal DNA in thousands of people - the group that had the greatest percentage of the DNA are from the Tuscany region.

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Response to ohheckyeah (Reply #15)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:36 PM

16. I assume their women were treated at best like the Irish women stolen by the Norwegian men

Last edited Sat Jan 26, 2013, 05:31 PM - Edit history (1)

when they settled Iceland. The mitochondrial DNA we have in Iceland indicated that virtually no Norwegian women were willing to relocate to Iceland. So the men would stop off at Ireland on their way to Iceland to kidnap a lot of rape/slaves.

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Response to Exultant Democracy (Reply #16)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:44 PM

18. I don't doubt that you are correct.

I just found it interesting because usually when two species interbreed the offspring are sterile. This doesn't seem to have been the case with homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

I wasn't arguing, just took a side trip. Sorry.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:05 PM

12. Obviously not Republicans...

 

that dolphin obviously wasn't pulling her own weight.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:12 PM

13. I'm pretty sure dolphins can empathise with the pain of their kin

even if this doesn't conclusively demonstrate it. I'm convinced empathy must be a quality of all social creatures.

This story also gave me a horrifying thought. How do dolphins die under normal circumstances? Do they drown?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:43 PM

17. Perhaps these dolphins were doing this because there

was a "human boat" nearby and they thought if they helped to keep the dolphin alive and bring to the human boat, the humans could help the dolphin out? Or maybe the dolphin was sick, and they wanted the humans to study the dolphin (dead or alive) to realize that there is some toxin in the environment that is affecting dolphins and causing muscle paralysis?

This boat is a research boat, the dolphins may have recognized its "scientific" aspect since their research is studying dolphins. I can't help but wonder at the dolphins being in the Sea of Japan and their habitat having been affected by a nuclear power reactor. The dolphins would be eating fish that could be contaminated. This could be the dolphins trying to say to the humans, "hey, look, you need to take our sister and study her and realize that all life in the area could be in harms way".

We've seen more and more of these dolphin/ human interactions, and the dolphin's apparent trust at times to interact and help or be helped by man... Like the dolphin that becomes entangled in a fishing net needing to be cut free or a human needing rescuing and a dolphin saving the human by bringing the human to the surface and keeping the human up in the air until a rescue can be had.

It's too bad the humans didn't take the 30 mins to help pull the dolphin aboard for further study of what was happening to her... Just let her body sink to the bottom without trying to study the dolphin for a better understanding of what was happening. Those dolphins were close to the boat, it's not as if they were out long range.

It would be amazing to have the technology to be able to "talk to/ listen to" the dolphins and other animals. They do speak. We cannot understand them, and I'm sure much of their language is partial body signals, vocal, and who knows, perhaps telekinetic. The dolphin brain is quite large. Perhaps they are able to communicate thru their minds?

And it does seem that they are able and capable of learning and trying to communicate. In captivity, the dolphins can seem to communicate thru trained command. And in other animal species, we have been able to communicate with "monkey" species thru sign language. Even in our homes with our cats and especially dogs, we know they seem to understand human words. They know their names, they know certain words like sit, stay, roll over, and to give a paw shake. They also seem to know certain words like "food" or "water" or "treat".

In my own life with my dog, treats are called "cookies", and if you say cookie, the dog goes to the garage door waiting for us to go into the garage where his food and cookies are kept. If my son says he would like a cookie for a snack, the dog's ears perk up and he will get up and start doing the butt waggle/ happy dance. My husband has to spell out "cookie" or "treat" to ask if the dog has gotten a treat when he doesn't know or the dog will go nutty thinking he's getting a treat. And when you talk to him, he will sit and cock his head to the side like he's listening and understanding what you are talking about. And as anyone knows, all of them seem to come with their own personalities and traits that make them unique in character.

It's no wonder there are old folk lore about humans being able to change into an dolphin form and vise versa. People's interactions with cetaceans from long ago must have realized how "humanly" they can seem at times. And in general, there are a lot of "lore's" about human/ animal changing or being assigned an animal trait/ character as a part of them. Just look at the many native tribes who are close with nature and the land looking to different animals (birds, bears, wolves, elk, buffalo) to name themselves or look to them as a "sign" of what's going on.

It would be a good thing for humans to look to other species with respect and understanding to create a more harmonious relationship with nature and our planet as a hole, instead of dominating and conquering all land and space as if we are not dependent on the entire natural ecosystem for us to survive as a planet.

I'm sad that the scientists didn't think to try and take the dying dolphin for further study. The dolphins may have been trying to get the humans to understand something was happening in nature to them and may be something that eventually effects land dwellers in a negative manner. We do seem to be one of the most destructive species to the planet and its co-dependence with each other to make the balance of nature thrive and sustain itself.

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Response to glowing (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:10 PM

22. I agree with your speculation about the behavior

and that it may have been that these animals recognized a possible potential outcome of obtaining help. Remember that video from the other day where that dolphin in Hawai'i swam around those divers who were watching manta rays and hung around until they helped it by cutting fishing line away? I don't think that was a chance occurrence. That dolphin may have been tangled up for days before it found helpful humans and may have been attracted by the lights knowing that lights meant humans were around and that they might be able to help it.

I have observed many wildlife species in many places acting in ways that would indicate a knowledge of who and what they might be able to communicate. I once had a cat who was friends with all the red squirrels who lived in our trees. Whenever one was hit by a car or died for some not so obvious reason, she would lure me outside to the body... but she had a particular pose she used every time to indicate that one of her friends was dead and that I had to go and bury it. She'd sit next to me and hold up one paw, as though it was hurt, and then look sadly toward the door and shudder. After I had buried her friend she would come in and sit on me and shiver, even after she had fallen to sleep. And there are so many times that I have observed wild animals showing emotion and grief that I could probably write a book about it.

I suspect that these dolphins may well have been asking for help, they did push the troubled one right up to the boat...

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #22)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 02:07 AM

26. What a beautiful post and subthread.

I agree with everything you have said here. My thoughts also went immediately to that video of the dolphin caught up in fishing line. The image you paint of your cat, shivering, is so close to many of my own experiences with animals.

People so underestimate them. Maybe because if we didn't, we could not excuse in our minds the things we do to them...

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Response to woo me with science (Reply #26)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:22 PM

31. Indeed. That's how I see it. But the

scientific community doesn't want anyone to think like that. I can see the utility to the scientific method but if you can't reinsert what you've learned about an isolate back in to the holistic structure, it serves no real practical purpose and only serves to create an isolate continuum... and we can clearly see where that has led us in all levels of life.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 03:59 PM

19. I recently learned a new word: Anthropodenial

Are We In Anthropodenial?
http://discovermagazine.com/1997/jul/areweinanthropod1180#.UQRCGGcocyc

This sentence from the article, at the end of the first paragraph cited, is what prompted this reply:
"The act does not necessarily mean dolphins are selfless or can empathise with the pain of their kin, however."

I'm sure I will get a new asshole torn into me for daring to bring up the fact, once again, that I believe animals do, in fact, have emotions, but I do need to update my Ignore List too. So, have at it anthropomorphism-believing flame warriors. Don't expect a response. I wouldn't want to anthropomorphize you, as I believe you are the ones with NO human emotions.

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Response to Jamastiene (Reply #19)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:51 AM

24. I didn't like that sentence either.

Homo sapiens (sapiens--yeah some not so much) that have to deny the pain of other creatures.... and even when it's so obvious.

I can tell you that even toads have feelings. I know it because I had two pet toads years back.

People who have empathy and pay attention to animals--even the smallest--can see it clearly.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 04:03 PM

20. +10.000

What a wonderful species they are. I so love them.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 04:27 PM

21. Mammals have much the same basic emotional brain circuitry.

It doesn't matter what you call the motivation behind the dolphin behavior. It was motivated by something in the brain, obviously, and if it looks like empathy and social caring, that's what it is. It may even excite the same (or evolutionarily related) ancient core neurological systems that it does in us. I would bet that it does. I'll bet they feel the same way we do.

I learned a lot by reading the work of Jaak Panksepp on Affective Neuroscience. Very interesting reading, IMO.

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Response to gulliver (Reply #21)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:12 AM

27. Thanks gulliver

glad I'm not alone in thinking excessive caution about "anthropomorphising" animals is misplaced.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:18 AM

28. I fucking hate Japanese people killing dolphins

 

they kill them for real!!! it is so sick!!!

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Response to Trascoli (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:43 AM

30. What difference does their nationality make?

 

Every member of industrial society kills part of the natural world each time they make a paycheck or buy some trash made form ecosystem exploitation. Some Japanese people are honest enough with their nature to get a little more up close. Up clsoe or not, we are all quite sick.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #30)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:39 PM

32. probably a reference to the big dolphin slaughters in Japan, which they've try to hide...

so --no honesty there, sorry! Pretty horrific stuff, not something remotely comparable to anything like a normal job or trip to the grocery.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #32)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:42 PM

33. When you go to the grocery...

 

You buy monocropped food grown on deforested land that destroyed habitat and killed multitudes of wildlife--bought with money earned while commanding energy & resources extracted from nature.

Every product and form of wealth is derived from destroying the natural world. Every damn bit of it.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #33)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 04:58 PM

34. whoa, how do you deal with the guilt?

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #34)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:02 PM

35. Most people do not

 

They have developed fantasies that separate the economic and industrial world from the natural world, then dress these notions up with faith-based theodicies to explain the suffering caused from their action (normally its due to the evil rich people).

For those who do understand the system, most conclude that guilt is not necessary. Climate change will starve billions of us in due time. The earth will figure it out before we do.

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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #35)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:19 PM

37. ahh, so no guilt for anyone. cool.

i was raised catholic and enough is enough already.

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Response to bettyellen (Reply #37)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 05:21 PM

38. You're allowed to feel anything you want

 

Frankly, it not going to make a damn bit of difference though for what is around the bend.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 03:27 AM

29. Good Grief We're An Arrogant Species

"The act does not necessarily mean dolphins are selfless or can empathise with the pain of their kin, however."

No, 12 other dolphins just coincidentally got together to keep another dolphin from drowning. It was just all innate instinct. Had nothing to do with the possibility they might actually have feelings for one another. No possibility that they wanted to help out a friend in distress. Because that's only something us higher mammal humans can do.

What a frigging crock. Their actions demonstrate they clearly have some level of empathy for others of their kind.

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