BBC, NEW SCIENTIST, WIKIPEDIA
Dolphins are the friendly sea creatures nobody can hate – they're playful, fun and super intelligent. Here are some interesting facts you may not know about dolphins, as well as the saddest dolphin video we've ever seen -- that is, the saddest video EVER.
1. SEA PORK - People eat dolphin meat. In Peru it is referred to as "chancho marino," or “sea pork” but reportedly, the cooked meat tastes like beef liver. It is eaten as sashimi in Japan, but not commonly.
[Dolphin sashimi by B.D. Padgett]
2. PEEPS - Various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have proposed that their unusually high intelligence compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as non-human persons that should have their own specific rights, and that it should be morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes, or to kill them; either intentionally for consumption or as by-catch.
3. MYTHICAL - Dolphins are found commonly in Greek Mythology and there are many coins from ancient Greece that feature a man or boy or deity riding on the back of a dolphin. The Ancient Greeks welcomed dolphins; spotting dolphins riding in a ship’s wake was considered a good omen.
[Luiz García Zaqarbal]
4. OUCH! Dolphins can tolerate and recover from extreme injuries, for instance shark bites. The healing process is fast and even the very deep wounds don’t cause dolphins to bleed to death. What’s more, even gaping wounds heal in a way that the animal's body shape is restored, and any infections of large wounds seems rare.
5. PEEPS II - A study at the U.S. National Marine Mammal Foundation revealed that dolphins, like humans, can develop a form of type 2 Diabetes, which may lead to a better understanding of the disease and new treatments for both humans and dolphins.
6. INTEL - The U.S. and Russian military have trained and employed oceanic dolphins. Due to the secrecy of such practice, rumors of what they do include training them to lay underwater mines, to locate enemy combatants, or to seek and destroy submarines using kamikaze methods.
7. SEA SADNESS - Dolphins display particular behaviors when an animal dies – behaviors which some have interpreted as akin to mourning.
VIDEO EXPLAINER The above footage shows five dolphins from a pod forming a raft with their bodies in an attempt to keep the stricken dolphin – whose pectoral fins seemed to be paralyzed –afloat. BBC reports that Korean-based scientists witnessed the event and recorded it. Five dolphins at a time lined up horizontally into a raft-like formation, maintaining it while the stricken dolphin moved on top and rode on their backs. Five of its associates continued to interact with the dead dolphin's body, rubbing and touching it, or swimming underneath, releasing bubbles onto it. They carried on this way despite the dead dolphin's body showing signs of rigor mortis, say the researchers.
Helping behavior is only seen in intelligent, social animals. In most species, injured animals are quickly left behind says The New Scientist. The act of helping also seems to suggest that the dolphins understand when others are suffering, and can even empathize – that is, imagine themselves in the place of the suffering dolphin. But while this is possible, says Karen McComb from Brighton University, the helping behavior could evolve without the need for empathy.