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When it comes to smart mammals, humans seem to continually win the prize. But we’re far from alone as intelligent members of the animal kingdom. In fact, two of the smartest ocean mammals are a big part of the Jervis Bay Wild experience: dolphins & whales.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide have even suggested that, with their complex brains, cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are even more intelligent than humans. In the book The Dynamic Human, these researchers state that the animal kingdom boasts cognitive faculties superior to those of humans. While we humans have succeeded at building a technologically advanced society, we still stand in awe of the communities and connections of whales and dolphins. Our appreciation may be one of the primary reasons whale watching and dolphin cruises are so popular—there’s nothing like seeing these animals in action, particularly when we know that they are the most intelligent mammals in the sea.




Do dolphins and whales know who they are? Research suggests they do. In a study at the New York Aquarium, some bottlenose dolphins clearly demonstrated self-recognition. Placing a mirror in the dolphins’ habitat, researchers marked their bodies with erasable markers, noting that the dolphins immediately swam to the mirrors and moved in such a way as to “look” at the marks on their own bodies. This can be linked to the notion that dolphins share our human sense of self.

It’s clear, too, that dolphins develop signature whistles—specific sounds that are unique to each individual dolphin. Whales, too, have a similar method of echolocation identification and both mammals can imitate the sound patterns of others in their pods/groups. This allows them to communicate directly to other whales and dolphins. The humpback whales’ incredible songs, extended and changed over time, also demonstrate the whales’ amazing capacity for communication and learning.


Brains that Learn & Teach


It’s fairly common knowledge that dolphins are friendly, intelligent creatures. Most of us have seen or heard of dolphins performing tricks. What is more surprising is how quickly they learn and how well they retain the information. Even when only observing and not engaged in active learning, some dolphins have been known to pick up skills and tricks. They also show signs of learning by experience, using their own cleverness to hunt expertly in the wild. In some areas, dolphins have learned to cover their snouts with sponges when hunting amongst sharp coral. Or in the case of a dolphin trained to keep his tank clean, he quickly learned that a piece of trash delivered equaled the reward of a treat. He brilliantly stored any trash he found underwater, tearing off only a piece at a time to present to his trainer and thereby receive extra treats. The knowledge and wisdom gained by cetaceans is believed to be transferred to offspring and peers, as they pass along succesful hunting techniques and other valuable information.


Appreciating the Remarkable Nature of Dolphins & Whales in Jervis Bay


Humbly, happily, we can approach the bottlenose dolphin and the humpback whale, two of earth’s most extraordinary creatures, right here in Jervis Bay, Australia. We remain at a respectful distance on our eco-cruises, giving a wide berth to these noble and smart ocean mammals. In this way, our guests get the chance to truly observe the true behaviour of dolphins and whales in their own natural habitat.

Want to stand in awe of these remarkable species? Come join us for one of our fantastic eco cruises. Our whale watching tours and dolphin cruises in Jervis Bay are designed to delight and inform, showing some of our finest local mammals at work and at play. Book now or contact us for more information.